Like any asset, the price of a token will reflect both its current and future expectation of value. Tokens offer their user access to participate in the networks ecosystem and obtain the utility provided. They can also be redeemed by the network for the market rate of the utility provided or sold at market rate to another user.Therefore cryptocurrencies generally offer two forms of utility value to their users: (1) current fundamental utility, and (2) forecasted utility (sometimes also referred to as ‘speculative utility’): Current Fundamental Utility: The level of current demand and resulting portion of the token’s value that is solely derived from users who purchase it today for its intended use case. These “token users” benefit by gaining access to the value proposition of the digital service provided by the token. For cryptocurrencies, we specifically define the value proposition as the fiat-equivalent transaction value sent during any given period (e.g.
, one-year). The level of demand for this form of utility can range from zero to the size of the tokens total addressable market. Forecasted Utility: The demand and the resulting portion of the token’s value that is based on the market’s perception that the utility value will increase in the future. These “token holders” are the recipients of any future utility of the token. Future utility may take any form of holding tokens for any period of time beyond that needed to facilitate the fundamental utility of a transaction. The level of demand for this form of utility is either negative or positive based purely on user expectations, ranging from the loss of the entire value of the network to near-infinite (and empirically unsupported) growth.
The vast majority of current token network values are currently derived from the forecasted utility component because we are in the infancy phases of their technology life-cycle. For this reason, the cryptocurrency asset class has been criticized by members of the traditional finance community, journalists, and even governing regulatory bodies as a bubble market.One suspects the source of unease with the future utility of token value is technological rather than risk-based.
After all, the valuation of biotech stocks has long incorporated assessments of both fundamental utility (e.g., products currently on the market producing current cash flow) and forecasted utility (products in the pipeline and engaged in FDA clinical trials prior to market). A company that obtains FDA approval for a new drug may reasonably expect stock prices to increase, perhaps dramatically, based on proven historical relationships between expected future utility and realized future utility of FDA-approved products.Here the novelty of crypto networks proves a stumbling block in accurate valuation.
To assess the reasonableness of the future utility component of a crypto-asset, the underlying value drivers must be analyzed with a new fundamental frame-work.