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.

Russia Will Not Legalize Facebook's Libra Says Top Official

A top Moscow official has said that Facebook's planned new cryptocurrency Libra will not be legalized Russia, according to a report this week from Russia's state-run news agency TASS.

Anatoly Aksakov, Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Financial Markets, said Russia would not legalise the Libra stablecoin, due for launch next year, as it may pose a threat to the country's financial system.

No Russian Liberty for Libra

While Aksakov acknowledged Russians would be able to buy Libra on international cryptocurrency exchange platforms, he warned that the creation of any domestic mechanisms of exchange would be limited, or even prohibited.

TASS quoted Aksakov as saying:

With regard to the use of Facebook cryptocurrency as a payment instrument in Russia at this stage - my opinion is that in our country it will be banned.

He added that in Russia there were no plans to adopt legislation that "gives space for active use of crypto-tools created in the framework of open platforms and blockchains" that may pose a threat to Russia's financial system.

International Ministers Speak Out

Aksakov is not the first financial minister to express concerns over Facebook's cryptocurrency plans and their potential to damage sovereign currency markets and financial stability.

On Tuesday, French economy minister Bruno Le Maire, said that global governments must ask Facebook for "guarantees" that Libra will not be aimed as a disruptive force against sovereign currencies.

Facebook's plans have US government and regulatory officials so rattled that a Senate hearing by the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee has been scheduled for July 16. The government has asked Facebook to halt work on the project until the hearings have been held.

Sherrod Brown, senior Senator for Ohio and the Democratic Party's ranking member of the Senate Banking Committee, said on his Twitter feed on Tuesday: "Facebook is already too big and too powerful, and it has used that power to exploit users’ data without protecting their privacy. We cannot allow Facebook to run a risky new cryptocurrency out of a Swiss bank account without oversight."

While Aksakov has major concerns about the growth of the cryptocurrency sector, Deputy Finance Minister Alexei Moiseev said on Wednesday that the Russian government was set to adopt the country's crypto bill "On Digital Financial Assets" in the next two weeks.