Another packed week in crypto with huge news from traditional banks and asset managers and record-breaking NFT prices. Here’s our roundup of the highlights from the past seven days.
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NORWAY-LISTED AKER TO USE BITCOIN AS TREASURY ASSET
Last week, listed Norwegian industrial conglomerate Aker ASA announced that it has set up a new company called Seetee AS, dedicated to investing in bitcoin companies. The company will use bitcoin as its treasury asset, and has partnered with Blockstream to work on bitcoin mining and sidechain projects.
Aker’s majority owner Kjell Inge Roekke wrote a shareholder’s letter, an excitingexplanation of a crypto investment thesis. Aker joins the growing number of companies including Tesla and Microstrategy who are opting to hold their reserve assets in bitcoin. As the bull market continues to rally, many companies and wealth holders are adopting cryptocurrencies and embracing the potential that they hold in shaping the new global monetary system.
Find out more about our treasury services for companies that wish to allocate part or all of their capital into bitcoin or other digital assets.
JPMORGAN CHASE PREPARING ‘CRYPTOCURRENCY EXPOSURE BASKET’
JPMorgan Chase last Tuesday filed a number of documents for a ‘Cryptocurrency Exposure Basket.’
The basket includes 11 unequally weighted reference stocks including Microstrategy, Square, PayPal, CME Group, NYSE-parent Intercontinental Exchange, Overstock and Silvergate Capital (and does not include Tesla).
These are companies JPMorgan Chase “believes to be, directly or indirectly, related to cryptocurrencies or other digital assets,” the bank said in a fact sheet included in the filing. It also emphasised the notes don’t provide direct exposure to cryptocurrencies and that the basket’s performance may not be correlated with the price of a digital asset.
GOLDMAN SACHS CUSTOMERS’ DEMAND FOR BITCOIN IS RISING
Goldman Sachs has been seeing more demand for bitcoin among its clients, according to its president and chief operating officer.
In a report by Reuters last Wednesday, John Waldron said that, while Goldman was “regulated” on what it could do, the bank continues to “evaluate” bitcoin and “engage” with clients. “Demand is rising,” said Waldron, who is also Goldman’s bank president.
The comments come as the bank relaunched its cryptocurrency trading desk with the intention of supporting futures trading for bitcoin, three years after shelving plans to do so.
The move also opens the possibility for Goldman to pursue a bitcoin exchange-traded fund as it strengthens its push into digital assets. Meanwhile, the multinational investment bank has issued a request for information to explore digital asset custody.
SAFETY AND FREEDOM FOR NFTS
Ethereum based NFTs are red hot at the moment. Viewed as digital collectibles or title deeds, they can be locked away and stored, or, more interestingly, traded and leveraged with DeFi.
NFTs have existed since 2017 but came into maturity in 2020 out of the belief that blockchain enables secure provenance and verification of authenticity and ownership of an item. More use cases are emerging including virtual real-estate, domain names, gaming and art all drawing the attention of major celebrities and brands, venture capital and crypto funds. Trustology provides an interesting discussion on how it’s already made it safer, faster and easier for institutions to both ’hold’ NFT assets with an end-to-end hardware secure infrastructure and ‘work’ the tokens harder in DeFi, plus looks at how corporations can leverage NFTs for investing and borrowing in a recent interview.
EUROPEAN PRIVATE BANKS LAUNCH DIGITAL ASSET TRADING AND CUSTODY SERVICES
Marcus Vitt, Spokesman of Donner & Reushel’s Management Board said: “We have been observing the digital assets market for some time now and are convinced of the potential of blockchain technology, also with regard to traditional securities transactions” and stated that the decision to move forward with the launch – planned “as soon as possible” – was prompted by high market demand for digital asset custody.
NPB’s customers will be able to trade “major” cryptocurrencies with access to Switzerland-based asset custody. “Digital assets increasingly represent a supplement to traditional asset classes and we are seeing strong demand from both private and institutional clients,” said Markus Ruffner, co-founder and CEO of NPB.
Good news for the crypto industry that clients of the growing list of private banks offering crypto services will find it more convenient to add crypto exposure to their portfolios.
UK TRADE BODY URGES CHANCELLOR TO STEP IN OVER CRYPTO REGISTER SAGA
CryptoUK, the trade association representing more than 50 crypto firms, has called on chancellor Rishi Sunak to intervene over a delayed anti-money laundering registration process that has trapped hundreds of crypto startups in limbo.
In a letter dated 15th March, CryptoUK chair Ian Taylor wrote that the Financial Conduct Authority’s lack of responsiveness and sector expertise risked a raft of businesses either leaving the country or shutting up shop.
“In both cases, this is a negative result for the UK economy and its fintech community. This goes against the government’s mandate to promote and encourage competition and enabling innovation to thrive,” wrote Taylor.
CryptoUK’s plea to the chancellor also suggests that the FCA disbanded its crypto-asset team last year. The team had, according to the letter, formed part of the Cryptoasset Taskforce – a unit set up in March 2018 to spearhead the combined crypto policy work of HM Treasury, the Bank of England and the FCA.
CRYPTOASSET COMPLIANCE – A YEAR IN REVIEW AND WHAT TO PREPARE FOR IN 2021
BCB’s Co-founder and General Counsel joined industry experts in both crypto and compliance to discuss what made the year 2020 so significant for the crypto world and the impact it’s had on the future of cryptoassets and compliance. Access on demand here.
FUTURE OF FINANCE WEBINAR WITH PAYMENTS INDUSTRY LEADERS
Our Founder and CEO will be joining industry leaders tomorrow – Tuesday 16 March 2021, 14.00 – 15.00 UK Time – to discuss digital payments.