Ray Dalio’s Bridgewater Associates Prepares to Invest in a Crypto Fund

Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund, announced Monday plans to back a crypto fund for the first time. The hedge fund founded by billionaire Ray Dalio disclosed that it is preparing to invest in an external cryptocurrency fund. The hedge fund firm justified its move by stating that currently, it does not have any plans to invest directly in cryptocurrencies itself.

According to three sources familiar with the matter, other prominent crypto investors are also in talks to invest in the fund.

A Bridgewater spokesperson revealed that the company currently does not have plans to invest in cryptocurrencies. “While we won’t comment on our positions, we can say Bridgewater continues to actively research crypto but is not currently planning on investing in crypto,” the official mentioned.

Another person with close information about the hedge fund’s crypto trading plans said: “Bridgewater is in a first-half plan this year. They plan to have a small slug of their fund deployed directly into digital assets.”

And another source also disclosed: “Bridgewater is looking to get involved. They are doing serious diligence: liquidity, service providers and whatnot.”

The Company Has a Place for Bitcoin

The move clearly indicates that the world’s largest hedge fund, with $150 billion in assets under management (AUM), is listening and taking cryptocurrency seriously as an asset class.

Established in 1975 and headquartered in Connecticut, US, Bridgewater is an American investment management company founded by Harvard Business School graduate Ray Dalio.

In December 2020, Dalio, the founder and chief investment officer of Bridgewater Associates, clarified his view on Bitcoin and disclosed what his company has in store for cryptocurrency.

Dalio confirmed that he owns “a little bit” of Bitcoin and called it a younger generation’s alternative to gold. “Bitcoin is like gold, though gold is the well-established blue-chip alternative to fiat money.” The Billionaire investor said that allocating up to 2% of one’s portfolio to Bitcoin is reasonable. He is confident that Bitcoin, similar to gold, acts as a good hedge against rising prices of goods and services.

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Crypto Investment Products, Funds Sees Net Outflows for 2nd Straight Week

Digital asset manager CoinShares stated that crypto investment products and funds saw net outflows for a second straight week, according to Reuters.

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In the week ended March 18, the crypto sector witnessed net outflows of $47 million after experiencing outflows of $110 million the previous week, even though there were persistent worries about regulation and the potential fallout from the Russia-Ukraine war.

However, there were seven straight weeks of inflows for digital asset investment products before the last two weeks.

There was an ongoing effort to regulate crypto when the outflows came as U.S. President Joe Biden had signed an executive order a few weeks ago calling the government to test the risks and benefits of introducing a central bank digital dollar and other crypto issues.

Bitcoin witnessed the largest outflow with $33 million in the latest week, and it had seen $70 million outflows previously, CoinShares report showed. However, year-to-date flows remained positive at $63 million.

Mikkel Morch, executive director at digital asset hedge fund ARK36, said that “even though Bitcoin has retraced a bit after tagging $42,000 over the weekend, it still managed to close the week well above $40,000.”

“Such a retrace seems healthy after a notable move up over the past week and shouldn’t be viewed as a negative reaction to any particular piece of geopolitical or macro news. As long as Bitcoin stays above $40,000, there is a good chance of continuation.”

The report stated that Ethereum-based products had outflows of $17 million last week, lower than the previous week, which saw outflows of $50 million.

However, analysts said that Ethereum continues to see negative investor sentiment with year-to-date outflows of $151 million or 1.2% of total assets under management.

Other altcoins saw inflows last week, such as Ripple, Polkadot, and Solana.

The report also stated that blockchain-linked equity investment products also posted net inflows of $17 million last week, up from $4 million the previous week.

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Stronghold Digital Mining Collects Coal Waste to Power Cryptocurrency Mining

Stronghold Digital Mining, based in western Pennsylvania, has found a new, environmentally friendly way to mine cryptocurrency, Reuters reports.

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Stronghold Digital Mining said it would harvest the byproducts of decades-old coal-fired power plants to power hundreds of supercomputers used to mine bitcoin.

Mainly, coal ash- a byproduct of burning coal to generate electricity will be used. Heavy metals, which are carcinogens from coal ash, can leach into groundwater and contaminate waterways.

Stronghold Digital Mining will re-collect the coal ash from the mine after sorting and crushing. It will enter the boiler room and re-burn it to generate electricity to provide power.

Mining cryptos such as bitcoin requires special computer equipment to handle the intense processing power needed to get Bitcoin. Such special computers require a lot of electricity to run.

The process of Bitcoin mining has long been controversial because of its energy use and environmental impact. The amount of electricity used daily to mine Bitcoin has been identified to be more than electricity used by entire nations like Ireland.

Greg Beard, CEO of Stronghold, said that:

“The bitcoin mining network itself is the largest decentralized computer network in the world, and it’s power hungry, so co-locating bitcoin mining and a power plant makes a lot of sense,”

Likewise, EV Battery Technologies, a blockchain and battery tech company, launched a commercial emission-free crypto mining solution dubbed Daymak Solar Tree. Furthermore, it collaborated with the Renewable Obligation Base energy economy for environmentally friendly initiatives in cryptocurrency mining.

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Famous Tennis Player Naomi Osaka Becomes FTX’s Global Ambassador

Four-time tennis grand slam singles champion Naomi Osaka becomes FTX’s global ambassador, becoming one of the first major female professional athletes to partner with FTX.

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Naomi Osaka will also receive an equity stake in FTX Trading Limited and will be paid in cryptocurrency.

At the Miami Open, Naomi Osaka will wear the FTX logo and will use her popularity to bring the female community to the FTX platform, cementing the FTX crypto exchange’s position as the world’s leading cryptocurrency exchange and leading more interest in digital assets of people into the Web3 future.

the CEO of FTX, Sam Bankman-Fried, comments that:

 “Just as FTX is at the forefront of crypto markets, we want to be at the forefront of social change. Our partnership with Naomi Osaka will further our goal of getting more diverse voices involved in the future of digital currency and Web3. I am excited to work with Naomi as we look to educate those groups and create a positive impact in the world.”

More females participate in the crypto space and demonstrate good knowledge in this industry. Earlier this month, Crypto financial services firm BlockFi has released the third edition of its Real Talk quarterly survey.

Nearly one-third of women surveyed plan to buy cryptocurrencies in 2022, and 60% of respondents plan to purchase cryptocurrencies within the next three months.

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Matthew Whitcomb Joins Spirit Blockchain Capita as Head of Corporate Development

Spirit Blockchain Capital Inc. (Spirit), headquartered in British Columbia, Canada, which focuses on blockchain and digital assets, has hired Matthew Whitcomb as head of corporate development.

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Matthew Whitcomb, an identified proponent of blockchain technology and former VP of Corporate Development at CSE-listed TAAL Distributed Information Technologies, will bring his extensive experience in capital markets, including mergers and acquisitions, debt and equity financing to lead the Spirit team.

As Head of Corporate Development, Matthew Whitcomb will be responsible for Spirit’s global fundraising and marketing activities.

Spirit provides investors with direct exposure to the industry without the technical complexities or limitations of buying and holding the underlying crypto assets.

SPIRIT Blockchain Capital Inc is a Canadian Swiss company operating specifically in the Blockchain and Digital Asset sectors with the primary goal of creating value in a growing environment through recurring income, cash flow and capital appreciation.

The Company’s strategy is to obtain and expand its exposure to this emerging asset class through providing a broad range of services and a value-orientated approach with a strong overlay of risk management.

SPIRIT Blockchain owns 100% of SPIRIT Blockchain AG, a Swiss-based company.

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FTX Ventures Forms Strategic Partnership with Banking app Dave, Invests $100m

West Realm Shires Services, Inc., the U.S.-based owner and operator of the FTX crypto exchange, has invested $100 million in a strategic partnership with banking app Dave.

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The company received a $100 million investment from the exchange of a $2 billion venture capital fund- FTX Ventures.

Dave CEO Jason Wilk said about the partnership:

“We believe blockchain technology has the potential to level the financial playing field across the globe. By aligning with a world-class leader such as FTX US, we are in position to enter the digital asset arena, explore new growth opportunities, and improve the member experience.”

The investment was made through unsecured convertible notes, a type of short-term debt, from FTX Ventures, a venture fund with over $2 billion. The note bears an annual interest rate of 3.00% (compounded semi-annually).

FTX US will be the exclusive cryptocurrency partner of the Dave platform and will introduce digital assets to the Dave trading platform.

Dave’s went public in January through a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) merger with VPC Impact Acquisition Holdings III, valued at up to $4 billion.

Brett Harrison, President of FTX USA, expressed his delight at the investment and stated that both parties share the same vision, commenting:

“We consistently look to align with companies that share our vision, have unique and disruptive business models, and can help drive widespread adoption of digital assets. Dave is a great fit as they check all three boxes. We see significant growth opportunities ahead for both of our companies and are excited to be working with Dave.”

This month, top-notch cryptocurrency exchange FTX has partnered with AZA Finance, a Kenyan-based fintech company, to expand its global footprint and presence on African soil.

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Securities Clearing Firm Euroclear Invests in Fnality, Advancing Distributed Ledger Technology

Financial product service provider Euroclear Group has invested in Fnality, an international consortium of global banking and financial market infrastructure, to advance distributed ledger technology (DLT) technology to support the adoption of tokenized assets and markets.

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Euroclear is a securities clearing company with over EUR 37.6 trillion in assets under custody. The specific investment amount has not been disclosed to the public.

The cooperation aims to apply distributed ledger technology (DLT) to digital securities and digital cash settlements to provide innovative solutions. This increases the speed and efficiency of a range of post-trade operations from primary market issuance to secondary market and collateral trading and interest payment services.

A distributed ledger technology(DLT) is a secure and immutable database where pieces of the ledger are stored in various locations along with a decentralized network. Data in a distributed ledger can be viewed and appended depending on the rights and permissions of each individual user.

Rhomaios Ram, CEO of Fnality International, said:

 “The institutional commercialisation of DLT is being realised through Fnality’s creation of a network of distributed payment systems using blockchain technology. As we progress from testing to real-world implementation, welcoming Euroclear Group as an investor into the Fnality International consortium will significantly enhance the diversification of Fnality’s network and expand our industry footprint, especially around Financial Market Infrastructure. This has obvious positive implications for the execution of our business and use case strategy.”

Founded in 2019, Fnality International is a consortium of global banks, including Barclays, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, and other well-known banks, dedicated to building a regulated payment system and improving the efficiency of central bank payment and settlement.

The CEO from Euroclear Group, Lieve Mostrey, commented that “as an open financial market infrastructure, our approach to innovation has always been to develop services in close cooperation with clients and pioneering networks and infrastructures, adding that  the company is “pleased to be working with Fnality and our clients in shaping a cutting-edge solution on wholesale digital cash and digital securities settlement for the benefit of the whole industry.”

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FTX Continues Global Expansion, Launches Subsidiary Division in Australia

FTX, a major crypto derivatives exchange based in the Bahamas, has continued its recent global expansion efforts by setting up a new subsidiary business in Australia.

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FTX Australia announced Monday that it will provide a comprehensive suite of exchange and over-the-counter (OTC) products and services, including derivatives in the country.

Australia is considered a key financial centre in the Asia-Pacific and a significant and growing market for FTX. Australians have a long reputation for adopting new technologies, especially when it comes to financial services. The launch of FTX Australia Pty Ltd highlights FTX’s long-term commitment to the local market and represents the naturally continued efforts by FTX to strengthen its global expansion endeavours.

Sam Bankman-Fried, CEO & Founder of FTX, talked about the development and said, “we’re excited to bring FTX’s innovative products and services to the Australian marketplace. The establishment of FTX Australia should provide all our local clients with the confidence of trading on a registered and licensed platform. As in other jurisdictions within which we operate, significant resources have been allocated to engage with local regulators proactively.”

The company said they are looking to participate in policy discussions globally and “will seek to continue this same level engagement locally through FTX Australia, and we are encouraged by the important work being undertaken to establish a new digital asset licensing regime.”

Expanding Access of Digital Assets to Global Markets

The latest expansion by FTX in Australia comes weeks after the exchange expanded its presence into Europe and the Middle East with the launch of FTX Europe. Early this month, FTX launched a European subsidiary business licensed in Cyprus to offer FTX’s products and services to European clients through a licensed investment company with adequate licenses across the European Economic Area.

Last week, the new European division became the first firm to obtain a license to operate Dubai’s crypto exchange and trading house.

Last week, FTX expanded into the African market as it partnered with AZA Finance, a Nairobi, Kenya-based fintech firm, to expand the use of web3 technology and digital currencies in Africa.

The European and Australian divisions will emulate the success of their US division (FTX US), which was established in 2020 and currently has about 1.2 million users. In January, FTX US raised $400 million in a Series C funding round that gives the exchange a valuation of $8 billion.

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Goldman Sachs Trades First Over-the-Counter Crypto Transaction with Galaxy Digital

Goldman Sachs Group Inc, a major US multinational investment bank headquartered in New York City, has further expanded its digital-asset offerings to Wall Street investors.

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The investment bank announced Monday that it has traded the first non-deliverable Bitcoin option, a derivative tied to Bitcoin’s price that pays out in cash.

The transaction was facilitated by Galaxy Digital Holdings Ltd., a crypto financial-services company led by former Goldman partner Michael Novogratz. The move marked Goldman’s push further into the nascent market for derivatives tied to digital assets.

The product launch is important as crypto holders such as hedge funds, and Bitcoin miners are looking for derivative exposure to Bitcoin, either to make bets on the cryptocurrency’s price without directly owning it or to hedge existing exposure to it. They use options to hedge risks or boost yields, and over-the-counter transactions are normally larger trades negotiated privately.

In a statement, Damien Vanderwilt, the co-president and head of global markets at Galaxy, talked about the development and said: “This marks the first OTC crypto transaction by a major bank in the U.S. as Goldman Sachs continues expanding its cryptocurrency offerings, demonstrating the continued maturation and adoption of digital assets by banking institutions. The move is set to open the door for other banks considering OTC as a conduit for trading digital assets.”

Max Minton, Goldman’s Asia Pacific head of digital assets, also commented about the announcement and stated: “This is an important development in our digital assets capabilities and for the broader evolution of the asset class.”

Enabling Customer’s Access to Digital Assets Markets

Early this month, Goldman Sachs Group Inc started exploring offering over-the-counter bilateral crypto options, which signalled to expand its participation in helping firms trade digital-currency derivatives.

Following a growing demand from institutional clients, Goldman reopened its crypto trading desk in March last year after a three-year break. As a result, Goldman tapped Galaxy Digital as its liquidity provider or a market maker for block trades on CME Group. Goldman opened up trading of non-deliverable forwards, a derivative tied to Bitcoin’s price that settles in cash. It also provides exchange-listed options and futures trading in Bitcoin and Ether.

The major investment bank has seen demand for derivative-type hedging, and the development of an options market is set to be the next big thing.

The market for these options is still in its infancy and has been dominated by crypto-native companies like Galaxy Digital Holdings Ltd, Genesis Global Trading Inc., and GSR.

Through Galaxy Digital, Goldman now provides liquidity and takes risk on behalf of clients to facilitate larger crypto derivatives trades.

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Cryptoassets Use in Ukraine War under Scrutiny by Global Regulators: Reuters

The use of crypto assets is being closely watched by global financial regulators amid the war in Ukraine after worry about its use to evade Western sanctions on Russia, according to Reuters.

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U.S. and European lawmakers have sent out multiple warnings to digital asset companies asking them to comply with Western financial sanctions imposed on Russia after it invaded Ukraine. However, reports have said that the $1.8 trillion crypto sector has not completely accepted the requests from lawmakers.

Crypto exchanges have turned a blind eye to orders for a cut off of all Russian users, which has given rise to concerns that Russia could use cryptocurrencies as a loophole to navigate around sanctions that have been put upon the country by the United States and Europe, according to a report by Blockchain.News.

David Schwimmer, LSEG’s chief executive officer, said that crypto exchanges are stuck in between either abiding by the philosophy of independence from regulation or supporting the centralised system of global finance – which calls for the requirement of regulation and transparent frameworks.

Another report by Blockchain.News said that Russians with strong social connections, who are under international sanctions for the invasion of Ukraine, have been using cryptocurrencies to launder their wealth.

Crypto watchdog firm Elliptic said that it found millions of crypto addresses connected to criminal activity and 400 digital asset providers who help users buy cryptocurrencies using rubles.

According to Reuters, some crypto exchanges have rejected calls to cut off all Russian users, raising concerns that crypto could be used as a way to circumvent sanctions.

On the flip side, Ukraine has raised more than $100 million in cryptocurrencies after calling for help on social media for donations to aid their military and humanitarian needs in bitcoin and other digital tokens.

“We at the FSB are monitoring the situation, the conflict situation relative to cryptos,” Patrick Armstrong, a member of the Financial Stability Board’s (FSB) secretariat, told a City & Financial conference in London.

Armstrong said that the FSB – which groups financial regulators, central banks and finance ministry officials from the Group of 20 economies – is sharing the information it obtains among its members.

To block potential sanctions loopholes, the European Union issued guidance on March 9 informing companies that sanctions on loans and credits include crypto assets.

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Bitcoin (BTC) $ 26,409.08 0.18%
Ethereum (ETH) $ 1,619.38 0.53%
Litecoin (LTC) $ 63.77 0.94%
Bitcoin Cash (BCH) $ 235.31 7.87%