At end of 2013 we saw the launch of BTX Trader, a multi-bitcoin exchange, trading interface from penny stock listed WPCS International (WPCS:Nasdaq). As a result, of the news, shares in the penny stock climbed 60% from $1.50 to over $2.50 on the news but have since fallen back to their pre-BTX Trader launching level. At the time of the BTX Trader launch we wrote that with a small market cap and struggling business, the move decision to enter the bitcoin space “was reminiscent of trading in the late 90’s as many small sized non-tech stocks saw their shares soar on announcements that they had invested in or acquired internet companies.”
Following on that trend, we have recently seen the first (or at least a first for us) listed trading company take bitcoin interest a step further and announce a name change. Announced in the middle of January, pink sheet listed Grand Pacaraima Gold Corp (BITCF) stated its intentions to change its name to Bitcoin Capital Corp and pivot its precious metals mining and energy operations to also include bitcoin mining and the operating of CoinQX, a crypto currency exchange. Based on those intentions, the firm late last week announced that it has hired Dr. Vyacheslav M. Abramov, a PHD Mathematics professor from Tel Aviv University. The move from physical to digital commodities is so far boosting BITCF’s stock prices as shares doubled on Friday and moved from $0.025 to $0.055.
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Also riding the bandwagon is biometric card solutions firm, SmartMetric (SMME). The firm has begun to market potential of its upcoming SmartMetric Biometric Bitcoin Card as ideal products to handle bitcoin storing and payments. Since announcing that they plan on bringing to market a bitcoin specific biometric card on January 10th, shares of SmartMetric have risen from $0.14 to a current $0.19. Similar to BITCF, SmartMetric is currently operating in the red with a dwindling cash base.
What is striking about WPCS, SmartMetric, and BITCF is how similar their stories are to the dot com bubble. During that time, there was no shortage of struggling firms adding a .com or NET to their name, or deciding to purchase an internet related company and pivot their business. Just like BITCF, mining companies in the 90’s composed of a disproportionate amount of firms rebranding to become internet stocks as they conducted reverse mergers with internet companies or purchased random technologies for millions of near worthless shares.
In terms of the current slate of new bitcoin firms, it is too early to decree that none of them will make it. In our review of BTX Trader, DC Magnates did find the product to be compelling and fit a need. Also, SmartMetric’s biometric bitcoin card does provide a potentially safe solution for handling physical person to person transactions as well as double as a wallet. However, with a limited budget, it remains to be seen if SmartMetric will actually be able to deliver the product and find a user base to achieve profitability. If the past is an indication of the future, we can expect to see many more penny stock companies enter the digital currency space as last ditch efforts to gain share appreciation and free marketing. However, due to poor financials that such firms tend to have when they ditch their core business models and become a bitcoin firm, as well as a competitive market, purchasing bitcoins are probably a safer investment.