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February 19, 2021

Weekly Market Roundup

Slowly, then all at once, that’s how things change; and this is especially true with institutions and digital assets.

Up until recently, institutional money avoided digital assets like the plague, but the tide has since changed, and dramatically so. The growth of Grayscale and, in particular its Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) product, together with the rise of futures contracts offered on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) is also a testament to growing appetites. With that in mind, it is not entirely unexpected to see traditional money managers focus on Bitcoin, as opposed to other large-caps, in particular when it comes to taking long positions.

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However, in a potential sign of things to come, it was reported that a number of bulge bracket firms including Goldman Sachs, ICAP, JPMorgan, and UBS have bought small amounts of Switzerland-based 21Shares’ Polkadot ETP, the first exchange-traded product (ETP) that offers exposure to the DeFi project. One should not underestimate the significance of this move, as it confirms the view that markets are maturing and entering a new phase of deeper exploration by outsiders, which may eventually lead to some sort of convergence.

Make no mistake, BTC remains the ultimate king of digital assets, so Bitcoin maximalists can sleep sound for now; but just like BP or ExxonMobil, or any other major energy firm that isn’t bundled up in the same basket as oil, or Barrick Gold with gold on the London Mercantile Exchange (LME), maybe the time is nigh for digital assets to separate the likes of Bitcoin, Ethereum and other “raw” cryptocurrency protocols away from something that is built on top of them.

There are other examples of service providers looking to structure products with exposure to assets other than Bitcoin and Ethereum, this includes the DeFi Index Fund recently launched by Bitwise Asset Management. The fund is also hoping to capture deep-pocketed investors’ bets on a corner of the crypto markets challenging traditional financial rails. Initial allocations include the following: AAVE, UNI, SNX, MKR, COMP, UMA, YFI, ZRX and LRC. It is worth noting that Uniswap makes up 25% of the index, followed by Aave at just over 23%, while LRC is the smallest at 3.6%. Interestingly, the index does not include Sushiswap.

Grayscale may be known for its GBTC but more recently, it was reported that the firm has filed to register a whole host of trusts that include DeFi assets such as Aave, Compound, Uniswap, Sushiswap, and more. DeFi may still be seen as a risky side of the digital assets ecosystem but, considering the exponential growth in the total value locked, which currently stands at $40 billion, the move to introduce various additional products shows growing appetite from the more institutional crowd.

All this makes for a strong case for the continuing further growth in the total market capitalisation of digital assets as we know it, although introduction and subsequent adoption of various indices appears to be inevitable.

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