People seeking to profit from the game-changing potential of blockchain technology often attempt to trade cryptocurrencies as a means to do so. Yet while fortunes can certainly be made in the crypto markets, trading cryptocurrencies is a high-risk endeavor.
A far lower-risk way to profit from the disruptive potential of bitcoin and its underlying technology is to invest in companies that stand to benefit from its adoption. Here are two such businesses.
The exchange titan
CME Group (NASDAQ:CME) operates the leading bitcoin futures exchange. Bitcoin futures contracts are binding agreements that allow people to make bets on whether the cryptocurrency's price will rise or fall over a set period of time. In this way, they give traders a way to speculate on the cryptocurrency's volatile price swings.
Yet futures contracts can also be used by bitcoin holders to limit risk. As an example, if you own bitcoin but would prefer not to sell it -- perhaps to avoid capital gains taxes -- you could sell a futures contract to hedge your position until the contract's expiration date. Used in this way, futures can be viewed as a form of insurance for bitcoin investors.
Both of these use cases are helping to fuel demand for bitcoin futures among both institutional and individual investors. Although CME Group's bitcoin operations are currently a small portion of its overall business, cryptocurrency-based products are likely to remain a significant growth driver for the company -- particularly if it chooses to launch new futures markets for additional cryptoassets, such as Ethereum, in the future.
Moreover, as a highly profitable and asset-light business, CME Group produces tremendous amounts of free cash flow. The company passes much of this cash on to shareholders via a combination of regular quarterly dividends and a variable annual payout, which usually equate to an annualized yield of about 5%.
As such, CME Group can provide you with the means to generate a sizable income stream from the growing popularity of bitcoin and other futures products.
The commerce ecosystem specialist
Square (NYSE:SQ) is perhaps best known for its popular commerce tools. Its hardware and software help small businesses process credit card payments, manage inventory, schedule staffing, and conduct a host of other important operational tasks. Square has also branched out into ancillary markets, such as business loans and peer-to-peer payments, with Square Capital and Cash App. The company's ever-expanding ecosystem forms a wide economic moat that helps to protect it from the competition and fuel its growth.
Square CEO Jack Dorsey's ardent support of bitcoin also makes the stock a great play on the growth of the popular blockchain-based technology. Dorsey is building a team of elite developers, known as Square Crypto, to help strengthen bitcoin's network. Under Dorsey's direction, the company also rolled out the ability to buy and sell bitcoin to users of its Cash App. The feature has proven popular among cryptocurrency fans, and it produced $125 million in revenue for Square in the second quarter alone.
Even after years of torrid growth, Square still has tremendous room for expansion. Global card payment volume will grow to more than $78 trillion by 2027, according to the Nilson Report. Square's gross payment volume of $95 billion over the past year represents just a tiny fraction of this massive market. Moreover, several of its other businesses, such as Square Capital, also have the potential to grow exponentially in the decade ahead.
Better still, investors currently have the opportunity to buy Square's stock at a sizable discount. A recent pullback in growth stocks has Square trading at a price 36% below its 52-week high -- a bargain that's unlikely to last long.