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The top 5 cryptocurrencies for Australian investors to watch

Given their recent correlation with risk assets, cryptocurrencies might see a rebound if central banks in major economies start to implement more accommodating monetary policy.

Source: Bloomberg

The outlook for cryptocurrencies

As central banks inevitably retreat from their hawkish positions, cryptocurrencies could see gains on the back of looser monetary conditions.

While the US Fed has yet to cut rates and Fed Chair Jerome Powell has signalled that rate cuts aren't likely for at least several months, interest rates can't ride high indefinitely as this would risk sending the American economy careening into recession and triggering a spike in unemployment levels.

Fixed income markets currently imply that rate cuts from the Fed are likely to arrive in the second half of the year, at FOMC's meeetings in July or September.

Similar dynamics apply here in Australia, with cuts bound to arrive sooner or later in order to avert recession, after the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) ratcheted up interest rates to their highest levels in over a decade.

Consensus amongst leading analysts is that the country's monetary authority will reduce interest rates before the end of the year. All four of the country's big four banks expect the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) to commence cuts to the target benchmark rate by the second half of 2024.

Should central banks continue to shy away from rate hikes, it could bode well for the performance of cryptocurrencies, given that recent history has shown they are highly susceptible to monetary policy settings.

Cryptocurrencies endured a major rout in 2022, after the US Fed and other central banks turned hawkish in response to breakneck inflation. Tokens plunged across the board in tandem with other risk assets that are strongly influenced by tighter monetary conditions.

By the end of 2022 bitcoin had fallen to just a quarter of its value at the start of the year, while a slew of other cryptocurrencies plunged and major players in the sector came apart amidst legal scrutiny - chief amongst them Do Kwon's Terraform Labs and Sam Bankman-Fried's FTX.

While the 2022 cryptocurrency winter may have undermined the argument that digital assets serve as an effective hedge against inflation, this precedent could also bode well for them in an environment where inflation is abating and monetary conditions are easing.

If cryptocurrencies perform similarly to other risk assets such as equities, then looser monetary conditions may serve to boost their prices in the same way as stocks.

The top five cryptocurrencies to watch

Here is a list of five of the top cryptocurrencies for investors to consider, should they believe looser monetary policy will prove a boon for digital assets.

1. Bitcoin (BTC)

2. XRP (XRP)

3. Tether (USDT)

4. Ethereum (ETH)

5. Cardano (ADA)

Bitcoin (BTC)

Created by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2009, Bitcoin enjoys the prestige of being the first widely adopted blockchain-based token of the Internet era. This vaunted status provides BTC with a sense of credibility and trust that has the potential to underpin its long-term value.

Despite enduring a tumultuous history since its launch over a decade ago, including sharp declines towards the end of the Covid pandemic, BTC has proven highly resilient amidst the economic turmoil of the 2020's.

The token has surged more than 58% since the start of 2024, despite seeing bumpy growth on the back of uncertainty surrounding rate cuts from the Fed.


First launched in 2012, XRP is the native cryptocurrency employed by Ripple, a payment, exchange and remittance network that is based upon a distributed open-source protocol and is accessible to financial institutions around the globe.

Ripple claims to permit "secure, instantly and nearly free global financial transactions of any size with no chargebacks".

In July 2023 a US court ruled that XRP is not a security, after the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) launched legal proceedings against Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse and co-founder Chris Larsen in December 2020, on the grounds that the cryptocurrency was an unregistered security.

Ripple recently announced that it has entered a partnership with Meld Gold, to bring tokenized gold and silver to the XRP ledger before the end of the year.

Tether (USDT)

First launched in 2014, Tether is an asset-backed stablecoin whose value is in theory pegged to the price of fiat currencies such as the greenback and Euro.

According to reports from Bloomberg, USDT is the largest stablecoin in terms of both trading volume and market capitalisation, as well as one of the world's most traded cryptocurrencies. reports

Hong Kong-based Tether Limited has stated that it holds reserves equivalent to each USDT issued in order to maintain the peg, although the company has incurred fines for failure to present sufficient audits to regulators in the past.

The issuer recently scored a major coup by entering a partnership with Telegram, one of the world's most popular messaging apps, in a move that could bring use of the token for crypto payments to 900 million users.

Tether CEO Paolo Ardino has also unveiled plans to launch a platform for the tokenization of digital assets that could have a profound impact on the way the sector operates.

The company has also invested $18.75 million in a Taiwan-based cryptocurrency exchange, that has the goal of bringing cross-border payments to emerging marketse and driving financial inclusion.

Ethereum (ETH)

First conceived in 2013 by programmer Vitalik Butrin, ETH has since emerged as the world's second-largest cryptocurrency in terms of market capitalisation. It's garnered strong support amongst some fintech developers, due to the smart contract functionality of its blockchain-based open-source software.

ETH underwent 'the Merge' in September 2022, when it shifted from a consensus mechanism based on proof-of-work to one based on proof-of-stake. According to developers, the move has slashed Ethereum's energy usage by 99%, potentially overcoming one of the main hurdles to the broader adoption of cryptocurrencies for transactional purposes.

The fortunes of ETH could receive a boost in future from the ambitions of storied asset manager BlackRock to launch an Ethereum ETF that will dramatically raise accessibility for retail investors.

Cardano (ADA)

While ADA is one of the newer cryptocurrencies on the market, it's a pioneer in its adoption of a proof-of-stake consensus mechanism that helps to greatly reduce the energy intensity and raise the efficiency of blockchain-based transactions.

ADA has recently seen a tepid performance, with the coin falling 28% over the past month and nearly 22% year-to-date, according to CoinMarketCap.

The token could prove resilient however, given the deep experience of Cardano founder Charles Hoskinson in the cryptocurrency space and his vision for improving functionality .

Hoskinson recently unveiled plans the Plutus V3 upgrade, with a view to enhancing the cryptocurrency ecosystem as a whole by enhancing blockchain interoperability.

Cardano is also reportedly on the verge of the Chang hard work for its proof-of-stake network, which Hoskinson believes will give it the most advanced governance systems amongst all blockchains.

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