Although the Wild West of crypto historically has involved scams, hype and price gaming, those descriptors are now tacked onto another industry — the N95 face mask market.
“Scrutiny surrounding these deals is high because of ongoing scams and claims of price-gouging, both of which are triggering emotionally charged reactions and fear of making deals,” Forbes contributor David DiSalvo wrote in a March 30 article on the coronavirus pandemic-induced N95 face mask mania.
Out of context, however, DiSalvo’s quote very much describes the crypto space at times.
The face mask market currently resembles horse-trading shenanigans
DiSalvo described a day that included helping a friend secure deals for face masks for U.S.-based hospitals in need. State governments and hospitals sat on the purchasing side, while mask brokers looked to secure deals on the seller side.
“The high price point per mask, driven by extreme demand, has contributed to an overwhelmed reaction among potential buyers, especially in the U.S.,” DiSalvo said.
After multiple hours of antics, all the masks up for grabs left the country, bought up by international parties instead of the interested U.S.-based entities.
DiSalvo described a mass, single-day exodus of masks. “By the end of the day, roughly 280 million masks from warehouses around the U.S. had been purchased by foreign buyers and were earmarked to leave the country,” DiSalvo said, according to information from medical supply broker Remington Schmidt.
“This is the craziest market I’ve ever seen,” Schmidt told DiSalvo. “If you are working with a seller who has masks but you can’t quickly show proof of funds, someone else is going to buy them,” he said.
Crypto markets often see similar conditions
Often compared to the Wild West, the crypto space often exudes many of these conditions at varying points.
Few scenarios include the hype and demand seen in the crypto space during 2017, when projects touting little more than a paper-based idea raised millions of dollars in seconds via ICOs. Most of these projects turned out to be scams.
Crypto is also a largely borderless market, drawing attention from all across the globe. Masks have similarly become an international concern.
As crypto, and now the N95 mask market, has shown — hype, supply and demand all hold the potential to drastically change markets. Over the last two years, many of those exuberant ICOs have fallen drastically in price, showing little current demand amid various lawsuits.