Grayscale Reports 'Slow' Business During Q4 2018, Company Still Raises $30.1 Million

Digital Currency Group subsidiary, Grayscale Investments reportedly raised $30.1 million during the last quarter of 2018.

The New York-based investment company had raised a record $95.4 million during the same time period in 2017. Commenting on the considerable decline in the amount of funds Grayscale’s investment packages have attracted, Michael Sonnenshein, the firm’s managing director, told The Block he was not surprised about Grayscale’s performance during Q4 2018.

Sonnenshein, a former associate at JPMorgan and (also previously an) analyst at the Bank of America and Barclays, said the last three months of 2018 were a “little bit slower” - as expected. During Q3 2018, Grayscale managed to raise significantly more funds as the digital asset investment firm received $81.1 million in inflows.

Attributing the decline in investments made in the final quarter of 2018 to “seasonal challenges”, Sonnenshein said he was still confident as Grayscale’s full-year inflows were valued at a substantial $359.5 million. Notably, Sonnenshein revealed that Grayscale’s overall performance for FY 2018 was its strongest, or best, since the firm was established in 2013.

"Majority" Of Clients Prefer Bitcoin (BTC)

According to Grayscale’s asset managers, 50% of the firm’s total inflows in Q4 2018 were from institutional investors who were mostly based in the US. A large percentage of the cryptoasset investment firm’s clients are also retirees, the company revealed.

Despite the sharp decline in bitcoin’s (BTC) price - after recording all-time highs of nearly $20,000 in late 2017 to currently trading at around $3,500, “the majority” of Grayscale’s inflows have been in bitcoin-related investments. Most of Grayscale’s clients prefer to invest in the company’s “passive" Bitcoin Trust, while limited investments are made in altcoins products such as the Bitcoin Cash Trust, Sonnenshein said.

Explaining why most investors continue to prefer bitcoin-related investments, Grayscale’s managing director noted “that’s where investors have spent the most time, hence they’re most comfortable with that asset.” Significantly more investors trust bitcoin over other cryptos because the flagship cryptocurrency has “overcome so much adversity”, Sonnenshein added.

Recently, Barry Silbert, the CEO of the Digital Currency Group (Grayscale’s parent company), had remarked that “bitcoin is king.”

DCG: Involved In 110 Crypto-Related Businesses

Silbert’s comments came during an interview with CNBC - during which he predicted that most “digital tokens” would “go to zero.” Having worked extensively as an investment banker, Silbert is notably one of the earliest and most active investors in the cryptoasset industry.

Established in 2015, the Digital Currency Group (DCG) is focused on "building and supporting the largest early stage investment portfolio in the digital currency and blockchain ecosystem."

DCG is reportedly involved in 110 crypto-related businesses in 30 different countries. Some of the crypto and blockchain firms DCG has invested in include Abra, BitPay, BitPesa, Blockchain, Blockstream, Brave, Chainalysis, Circle, Coinbase, Kraken, Ledger, Ripple, and Xapo.

Global Task Force, U.S. Tax Agency, SEC Dominate Crypto Headlines

Regulations are ruling the crypto headlines so far this week. Over the past 24 hours, we’ve learnt the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is reportedly set to finalize new international standards for regulating cryptocurrency firms next month. The commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has stated his agency has “made it a priority” to issue more comprehensive crypto tax guidance “soon.” Finally, the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) announced it would delay, once again, its decision on the VanEck and SolidX Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) proposal.

At the time of writing, bitcoin (BTC) and ether (ETH) are trading at $7,945.4 and $252.9; a 0.54% and 0.83% jump over the past 24 hours, respectively. As for the MVIS CryptoCompare Digital Assets 10 Index, it is currently tracking at 3,822.7 (-0.6%).

Global Standards for Regulating Crypto Firms Next Month

According to reports from CoinDesk, the FATF is set to finalize new international standards for regulating cryptocurrency firms next month. These standards, they report, are widely expected to subject crypto exchanges, wallet providers, and other businesses to the “travel rule” – a colloquial term given to a rule found in the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) that requires all financial institutions to pass on certain information to the next financial institution, in certain funds transmittals involving more than one financial institution.

Introduced in 1996 in the U.S., the “travel rule” is designed to help law enforcement agencies detect, investigate, and prosecute money laundering and other financial crimes by preserving an information trail about persons sending and receiving funds through funds transfer systems. The arrival of such international standards would go beyond the basic know-your-customer requirements that are widely enforced in the crypto space at present.

IRS Commissioner: More Detailed Crypto Tax Guidance ‘A Priority’

According to letter from IRS Commissioner Charles P. Rettig dated May 16, the agency has “made it a priority” to issue a more comprehensive tax guidance for cryptocurrencies. The Commissioner’s letter was written in response to a request from 21 Congressmen to provide clarity on tax treatment in relation to cryptocurrency holdings.

In 2014, the U.S. tax agency issued a guidance for cryptocurrency. In his May 16 response letter, Rettig revealed the IRS will “soon” issue more robust guidance. “I share your belief that taxpayers deserve clarity on basic issues related to the taxation of virtual currency transactions,” the Commissioner wrote.

SEC Delays Decision on VanEck SolidX Bitcoin ETF

The SEC announced the postponement of a decision regarding the VanEck SolidX bitcoin ETF proposal. The postponed ETF proposal was initially filed over a year ago. In January – amid the U.S. Government shutdown – it was withdrawn, only to be resubmitted later that month. On March 29, the commission delayed the joint proposal for the first time. The SEC must announce its decision – or, for the final possible time, postpone its decision – on the proposed bitcoin ETF no later than August 19.

Notably, the U.S. investor watchdog is seeking comments from the public in relation to the proposed VanEck SolidX bitcoin ETF. To guide commentary, they included fourteen questions in Monday’s filing. Comments must be submitted within the following 21 days, whilst rebuttals to said comments are due within the next 35 days.