Bitfinex was hacked back on 2 August 2016. About 36% of Bitfinex holdings were stolen. All Bitfinex account holders took a 36% loss and were issued one BFX token for each dollar-equivalent in value that was lost.
BFX tokens are basically “IOUs” specific to Bitfinex. I was issued the 313 BFX tokens since I had lost 313 dollars.
BFX tokens were then made tradable and the price plummeted from a 1 to 1 parity with the dollar down to a fraction of a dollar.
This enabled folks to close their BFX tokens and get some of their money back immediately. Or they could choose to hold onto the BFX and wait for Bitfinex to raise capital to make good on these IOUs.
I was fairly upset for a while about this hack and my loss. I withdrew the remaining 64% of my holdings from Bitfinex and I didn’t login to Bitfinex for a while.
But one of my readers informed me that he was going to be investing some more money in margin funding at Bitfinex and that got me interested again.
Plus I still had 313 BFX tokens sitting in my account.
BFX Redemptions are Slow
About a month after the hack, in September 2016, Bitfinex started redeeming BFX tokens for dollars at a 1 to 1 parity. They essentially began making good on the IOUs they’d given out.
I received $17 in BFX token redemptions between 1 September 2016 and 7 January 2017. Bitfinex most recently redeemed 2% of all outstanding BFX tokens on 10 January.
I calculate that if it took four months to get $17 back it will take over six years to get the rest back.
Because the rate of redemption is so slow I sold my BFX tokens for dollars at a rate of .55 USD per token.
I’ve started margin lending using these dollars.
Why go back to Bitfinex after their security breach cost me 36%?
My thought process is that Bitfinex was hurt so much by the last hack that they are hyper-vigilant now. They’ve implemented additional security features such as two-factor authentication and offline, cold wallets.
Bitfinex is the only game in town I’m aware of that allows users to do margin funding.
And I want to recoup my losses. As of writing the “Flash Rate of Return” for margin funding is .07% per day. So based on my calculations I should be able to get back to $313 in about 3.5 years.
That is assuming the FRR stays at or above .07% per day. Hopefully it goes up.
Bitcoin is Volatile
I think margin funding is a great way to take advantage of the popularity of Bitcoin without the exposure to BTC price fluctuations.
BTC is volatile which is something that traders like.
In January Bitcoin started around $950 went up over $1,100, then back down to roughly $800.
Do These Price Fluctuations Matter?
If I believed Bitcoin was a great long term holding I don’t think I would care about these price fluctuations. A big run-up would be a time to take some money off the table and a big drop might be a time to increase my holdings.
Some people like holding BTC and believe it will go “to the moon” but I am somewhat skeptical of Bitcoin as a currency and I don’t know that BTC will be valued higher 10 or 20 years from now than it is today.
I prefer gold over Bitcoin because it has a 3,000 year history of being valued; but as I’ve said before, you can own both (I do). I just choose to own much more gold than Bitcoin.
I still like Margin Funding
By being a margin lender (in my case with USD) I’m not exposed to Bitcoin price changes and there is a set rate of return each time funds are lent out. From a market perspective there is no BTC price risk.
There is USD debasement risk. But the main risk, as I learned, is hacks.
There is also counter-party risk but I believe Bitfinex to be a reputable company.
Of course I wish they had better security so they never got hacked in the first place but I think they handled the situation fairly well and have taken a lot of steps to increase security.
It is too bad for that folks in US are not eligible to buy BFX tokens (if I recall correctly they were selling for .33 USD at one point and are now at .59, that would have been a good trade).
Citizens of the land of the free were also not eligible to partake in the BFX token-for-equity-programs–onerous US regulations are to blame for these restrictions.
I discuss the benefits of margin funding in more detail in my article Margin Funding to Generate Passive Income. I do think that it is a market-safe way to grow wealth, but the risk of future hacks is not something to be taken lightly.
If you do decide that signing up for a Bitfinex account is right for you, use this link: Bitfinex.