weekly roundup – VISA ACCEPTS USDC TRANSACTION in payment | fidelity’s ETF | Soros Fund backs lukka | Sovereign wealth funds

Last week Fidelity filed for a crypto-related ETF, George Soros’ fund invested in a crypto data firm and we heard that sovereign wealth funds are trying to get access to crypto. Here’s our roundup of the recent news highlights.

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singapore

SOVEREIGN WEALTH FUNDS LOOKING TO BUY BITCOIN

Sovereign wealth funds, the investment arms of cash-rich nations, are coming for bitcoin as they look at new strategies to protect their interests after the last 18 months of global economic turmoil.

Last Wednesday NYDIG CEO Robby Gutmann revealed that unnamed sovereign wealth funds have been approaching the firm with enquiries about buying bitcoin, at Real Vision’s online Crypto Gathering event.

In the same conversation, former global hedge fund manager and Real Vision CEO Raoul Pal mentioned that Singapore Exchange and state-owned investment firm Temasek Holdings has been buying bitcoin. Temasek is known to be the higher risk-leaning fund of Singapore’s two sovereign wealth funds.

Glass buildings

GLOBAL FUNDS GIANT FIDELITY JOINS THE RACE FOR THE FIRST US BITCOIN ETF

Last week, Fidelity Investments applied to list a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

It would be called the Wise Origin Bitcoin Trust and provide investors direct exposure to the bitcoin price by tracking Fidelity’s Bitcoin index. The index itself takes prices from markets such as Bitstamp, Coinbase, Gemini, itBit, and Kraken. This makes the sixth application in front of the SEC; the mood has definitely shifted – three months ago, there was a total of one active proposal.

btc usd

VISA ACCEPTS USDC TRANSACTION AS PAYMENT IN PILOT PROGRAMME

Visa has processed a USDC payment on Ethereum for a new service that the payment giant plans to introduce to its partners later this year. The move, the latest sign of increased adoption of digital currencies by the old-guard financial industry, caused the price of bitcoin to surge more than $1,500.

Announced in a press release today, Crypto.com sent a USDC transaction to an account at Anchorage custody under Visa’s name. Visa also says that these upgrades to its treasury infrastructure will allow the support for central-bank digital currencies as they roll out in the future. 

“Crypto-native fintechs want partners who understand their business and the complexities of digital currency form factors,” said Jack Forestell, Visa’s Chief Product Officer, in the press release. “The announcement today marks a major milestone in our ability to address the needs of  fintechs managing their business in a stablecoin or cryptocurrency, and it’s really an extension of what we do every day.” 

blue building

SOROS FUND BACKS LUKKA’S $53 MILLION SERIES D FUNDING ROUND

Billionaire investor George Soros’ fund has backed Lukka in a $53 million Series D fundraise, the fintech company announced last Thursday. The announcement comes shortly after Lukka’s Series C fundraise, led by State Street, was finalised in December. Lukka has raised nearly $75 million in the past year from investors including Soros, S&P Global, CPA.com and State Street, according to the company.

Lukka currently serves more than 200 active cryptocurrency funds and provides digital asset data to both traditional and cryptocurrency firms, including S&P Dow Jones Indices. 

Institutional interest in digital assets has exploded over the past year, and it’s something that Lukka Co-CEO Robert Materazzi saw coming. He made the decision to leave his financial services position at PwC in 2018: “I joined Lukka about two and a half years ago, and one of the reasons that I joined was because they were building products, software and data products that were meant to be for institutions,” he said. “It seems like it’s been a domino effect of press releases, and big, big companies like Tesla getting some exposure to bitcoin to start, and then usually, the rest of the coins follow from there.” 

pwc building

CRYPTO M&A SET TO NOTCH RECORD AFTER DOUBLING IN 2020, SAYS PWC

The value of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in the crypto sector more than doubled to $1.1 billion in 2020, according to a new report by PwC.

The average deal size went from $19.2 million in 2019 to $52.7 million in 2020 according to PwC, with a greater share of activity taking place in Europe and Asia. Furthermore, 2021 is “already on track to significantly surpass it from every single metric,” according to Henri Arslanian, PwC’s Global Crypto Leader. This will be driven by institutional players, large investors and cash-rich crypto platforms, he said.

PwC’s report predicts that institutional investment in the crypto industry will continue to increase, thanks to the interest surrounding non-fungible tokens, decentralised finance, central bank digital currencies and stablecoins.

Man on crossing

SQUARE CFO SAYS THERE’S ‘ABSOLUTELY A CASE’ FOR ALL BALANCE SHEETS TO HAVE BITCOIN

The Chief Financial Officer of payments giant Square, Amrita Ahuja, believes more companies need to get on board with cryptocurrency.  

In an interview with Fortune Magazine’s new CFO newsletter on Sunday, Ahuja said her company sees bitcoin and cryptocurrency as “expanding access to financial services” particularly on a global scale.

“There’s absolutely a case for every balance sheet to have bitcoin on it,” said Ahuja in relation to user adoption and an emerging trend by large firms to pick up the nascent asset class. 

“The investment that we made on our balance sheet for bitcoin represents about 5% of our cash,” said Ahuja. “We intend to hold for the long term here.” The CFO also said Square would assess its strategy on an ongoing basis based on how “the bitcoin ecosystem evolves.”

Find out how BCB Treasury is designed to provide an end-to-end service to corporates enter, hold, manage, grow and report on a bitcoin focused treasury strategy.

THE FUTURE OF FINANCE: PAYMENTS WEBINAR

BCB’s Oliver von Landsberg-Sadie joined five key payments industry experts to discuss innovation in payments.

Catch this fascinating discussion on the topic of digital payments with Clare Rowley, Global Legal Entity Identifier Foundation (GLEIF)Chris Hamilton, Principal at Hamilton Platform, John Salmon, Partner at Hogan Lovells and Olaf Ransome, aka The Bankers’ Plumber, SIX Digital Exchange.

The webinar was hosted by Future of Finance (FOF) and was moderated by Dominic Hobson.

Watch the highlights here.

Oliver Tonkin panel

KEY TRENDS IN DIGITAL CURRENCY GOVERNANCE WEBINAR WITH  INDUSTRY LEADERS

Our Co-founder and General Counsel, Oliver Tonkin, will be joining the Key Trends in Digital Currency Governance panel at City and Financial Global’s  The Future of Cryptoasset Regulation summit on 30th March at 2.20pm UK time along with

🌟 Dr. Naseem Naqvi FRCP FBBA, founding President of the The British Blockchain Association ®️ and Founding Editor-In-Chief, The JBBA – moderator
🌟Greg Medcraft, Director, Directorate for Financial Enterprise Affairs
OECD
🌟 Sandra Ro, Chief Executive Officer Global Blockchain Business Council

Register here.

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