Could Cryptocurrencies Present the Potential to Diversify Tribal Assets?

There are nearly 5,000 cryptocurrency assets with Bitcoin being the most well-known.  

While cryptocurrencies operating on blockchain technology have existed since 2009, when Bitcoin was introduced, the past few years have seen a dramatic increase in cryptocurrency value and adoption. While Bitcoin is the most well-known, there are nearly 5,000 cryptocurrency assets listed on Coinbase.com, although only 56 are currently available for trading.

Bitcoin has seen a rapid increase in value since its introduction and particularly over the past year. A theoretical $1,000 invested in Bitcoin in August 2013 would be worth more than $511,000 today, and $1,000 invested one year ago (April 26, 2020) would be worth $6,962.78 at the time of this writing.

Blake Trueblood (Choctaw), an attorney who currently oversees the legal affairs over a variety of private equity backed companies with combined assets of more than $150 million, has been following cryptocurrencies since he read an article about them on a technology blog back in 2013. That led him down a rabbit hole of learning and understanding what Bitcoin was and the transformative potential of blockchain technology.

“Once I had a deep understanding of the technology, I came to the personal position that this seems inevitable,” Trueblood told Native Business Magazine. “This type of innovation really speaks to us in a more electronic, more digital commerce-driven world. A lot has changed between now and then, but the core principles and the core way that the Bitcoin blockchain operates has not changed in any material respect.”

In 2014, while working as Director of Business Development for the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development (NCAIED), Trueblood was helping prepare for the annual Reservation Economic Summit (RES).

“We were trying to fill holes on the agenda and I was asked what I would talk about if I got some time for a session; without hesitation, I said ‘I’m going to talk about Bitcoin,’” Trueblood said. “This was back in 2014, when a very, very small percentage of people had even heard of Bitcoin, let alone have any kind of basic understanding of it.”

Despite his attempts to share his enthusiasm for these new types of currencies, the interest at RES reflected the national attitudes.

“I had two session at that 2014 RES conference on Bitcoin, one of which was very lightly attended and the other—well, I wasn’t booed off the stage, but there were definitely some folks in the audience who were highly skeptical,” Trueblood said.

Today, Bitcoin and other currencies are gaining in popularity and legitimacy. One of this month’s major financial newsmaking events was the IPO of Coinbase, a cryptocurrency exchange platform, that was widely seen as a tipping point for cryptocurrencies. And brand name investors like Mark Cuban, Elon Musk, Jack Dorsey, and Richard Branson are championing the technology as a new asset class.

For Tribes, Trueblood continues to see Bitcoin and cryptocurrency as having great potential as a way to diversify investment portfolios, particularly for its ability to gain value without being impacted by inflation.

“If you’re a large gaming Tribe with a large cash reserve, are you going to let it sit there and get eaten away at by inflation?” Trueblood asked. “Or could you invest in Bitcoin as a means to hedge against that inflation?”

“It’s an asset class that I think Tribes could be looking into in order to better understand how it fits into their overall financial planning and Treasury,” he said.

Native Business Magazine

Native Business Magazine

Carmen Davis - Founder, Publisher and Executive Editor

Mrs. Davis is the founder, publisher and executive editor of the only Native American wholly owned and operated national tribal business publication, Native Business Magazine, and the producer of the annual and nationally attended Native Business Summit.

Mrs. Davis is also president of Davis Strategy Group has over 23 years of service to Indian Country and as an entrepreneur she has successfully established, operated, managed and grown several businesses in multiple sectors. She is equal parts a strategic visionary and behind-the-scenes implementor, essential in guiding and overseeing every process of brand development, business expansion, nation-to-nation relationship building and more.

She was named in 2009 as one of the first recipients of the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development’s, “40 Under 40” award which recognizes up and coming community and business leaders from across Indian Country.

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