Institutional adoption of bitcoin is here, you just have to know where to look. While cryptocurrency advocates have long worked to build an ecosystem deemed credible enough for more than just mom and pop investors, nearly 20 institutions already filed paperwork with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission last quarter, showing they invested in the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC), a product of Barry Silbert’s New York-based Grayscale Investments, LLC.
While many of the names are well-known mutual funds like Ark Invest with $4.5 billion in assets under management and Horizon Kinetic, managing $5.3 billion, according to their investor disclosure forms, the latest filings are also rife with relative newbies to the space including Rothschild Investment Corporation, Addison Capital and Corriente Advisor. “It’s very difficult to have a clean one-to-one signal on who’s entering and exiting the space,” says Ark Invest crypto analyst Yassine Elmandjra. “But there are some very interesting proxies that can gauge institutional interest.”
The problem is, the vast majority of the institutional investors who filed the paperwork, called a 13F filing, will no longer need to do so if the SEC gets its way and raises the threshold to report from $100 million to $3.5 billion. Though bitcoin represents only a tiny fraction of the total assets that will no longer have to be disclosed if the change is implemented, the nascent industry stands to be disproportionately impacted.
Of the 27 GBTC disclosures Forbes found only nine were more than the new $3.5 billion projection. Only three companies managed those nine funds, meaning much of the diversity of the space, the smaller institutional investors who are just starting to experiment with the new asset, would disappear. The changes are bad timing for the nascent bitcoin industry, which is just now starting to see broad institutional interest in the asset that many see as a hedge against more traditional investments, and a possible safe haven for investors as central banks around the world seem to be printing endless amounts of money.
But as often happens in crypto, every one step back the industry takes, there’s two steps forward. In January, the same Grayscale Bitcoin Trust whose clients had already been filing 13Fs became an SEC reporting company, making it the first bitcoin firm to file quarterly 10-Qs and annual 10-Ks with the regulator, shedding new light on the internal structure of institutional bitcoin adoption.
Today, Grayscale took it up a notch, starting the same process with the SEC for its second crypto fund, the Grayscale Ethereum Trust (ETHE),…