Crypto firms move cash to asset managers
A rising number of companies in the digital-asset sector are reaching out to asset managers such as Fidelity Investments to invest their cash in products like Treasuries in the aftermath of the recent collapse of several crypto friendly US banks.
Justin Bram, co-founder and chief executive officer of crypto startup Astaria, said he was surprised by the number of messages he received after he offered to make introductory calls to Boston-based Fidelity in a private group chat on Telegram last week. Representatives at Fidelity didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
“I’ve referred probably 25 companies and funds their way in the last three days,” Bram said, adding that the introductions included large market makers and venture capital firms in digital assets.
Some startups, as well as more established digital firms, are struggling to find new banking partners in the US. Silvergate Capital Corp, a go-to bank for crypto, announced a plan to wind down operations and voluntarily liquidated its bank last week.
Venture capital-focused Silicon Valley Bank collapsed next and its assets were seized by financial regulators at the end of last week. Signature Bank, another bank known for its ties with crypto, was closed by New York state regulators on Sunday.
Bram said he’s been using Fidelity for more than a year for his nonfungible token lending project. Fidelity offers a startup like his a brokerage account, which gives them opportunities to invest in products like Treasuries. Silicon Valley Bank had rejected his firm’s account application, he said.
“Fidelity isn’t a traditional bank, but they’re certainly safer than the tier-two-and-beyond banks,” Bram added.
Seth Rosenthal, chief investment officer at Academy Asset Management, said over the weekend, “as a result of the bank failures and overall liquidity concerns, we saw a number of inbound calls” from traditional firms and crypto-related entities looking to invest in Treasuries and other highly liquid government securities as alternative places to park their excess cash.
Bank deposits are still the place for operational cash, he said. “Traditional managers such as ourselves are able to manage their cash reserves through separately managed accounts. It allows clients to have direct ownership of the underlying securities,” Rosenthal said.
“I would say if you have large cash balances at the bank, it’s really about reassessing how much you wanna keep at the bank. Do you want to put it into a separately managed account, where you could own high quality, liquid assets, such as Treasuries?” Rosenthal said.
Daniel Hinton, head of operations and treasurer at sFOX, an institutional crypto primer dealer, said clients are seeking “alternative cash management,” following the recent bank failures. One option is to hold funds in money market accounts or directly in Treasuries.
“This is a service that some banks may offer directly – if you happen to bank with someone with brokerage accounts; it also could be necessary to open distinct brokerage accounts,” Hinton said.
Another option is to hold stablecoins as a way to get banking diversification through the issuer’s banks. “Stablecoins generally – not just USDC – are something that clients are considering to bolster their US dollar perceived protection,” Hinton said.
“The primary game is diversification” of service providers, Hinton said. – Bloomberg