One of the common critiques that cynics use to bash the Bitcoin and cryptocurrency space is that this whole market is retail-driven. In 2017, this may have been the case. Then, Wall Street was still in the midst of learning about Bitcoin and its ilk and thus made no announcements on the matter.
For some reason, skeptics of this industry have taken this narrative and applied it to 2019. But, Nasdaq, CBOE, CME, New York Stock Exchange, TD Ameritrade, JP Morgan, Ernst & Young, and countless other big names in finance have launched or are working on cryptocurrency products.
And most importantly, a report from industry investment firm Grayscale suggests that institutions continue to siphon fair amounts of capital into this space.
Grayscale’s Crypto Fund Inflows “Dominated” by Hedge Funds
Just like other investors, Grayscale’s clients have also been subject to the fear of missing out. As revealed in the firm’s latest Digital Asset Investment Report for Q2, it secured over $84.8 million in investment during the last quarter, marking the strongest inflows since the true start of the bear market in Q2 of 2018.
Per the report, much of the capital that Grayscale received in Q2 was allocated to its Bitcoin Trust, the firm’s flagship vehicle that trades on American over-the-counter markets. This may be one of the reasons why Bitcoin dominance has rallied in this uptrend, not declined as it did in early-2018. What’s also interesting is that a purported 84% of the $84.8 million inflow was sourced from institutional players, mainly “hedge funds”.
Bitcoin Dominance Rally a Clear Sign of Institutions
This seemingly confirms a report from FN London, which stated that Bitcoin’s rally from $3,150 to over $10,000 was supported by funds, not retail investors.
Fund managers and cryptocurrency executives speaking to the outlet explained that the rapid growth in Bitcoin dominance, which is up to 66% from 33% at the peak of 2018’s mania, is the perfect indicator of renewed institutional investment. Jamie Farquhar, a portfolio manager at NKB Group, said:
“My view of the recent rise in Bitcoin dominance is that much of this move was driven by institutional buyers. Macro managers and high net worth individuals are generally, in my experience, focused almost entirely on BTC.”
In other words, Bitcoin is effectively the favorite cryptocurrency for institutions.
Fidelity Investments’ involvement in this industry corroborates this. For years now, the Boston-based financial services giant has been laser-focused on Bitcoin, with reports revealing the company has been mining BTC for years. Aside from a mining operation, the company also has custodial services and a trade execution desk for Bitcoin, and Bitcoin only.
You can see a similar trend with the cryptocurrency-focused financial vehicles already on the market, or those that are looking to come to market. Look no further than the incessant stream of crypto-backed exchange-traded fund applications. Notice how nearly all of them are 100% Bitcoin, save for a few outliers such as Crypto Crescent’s Bitcoin and Ethereum fund announced earlier this month.
So again, the fact that Bitcoin dominance is shooting higher, even as some altcoin projects have begun to deliver impressive products, only gives credence to the “institutions are here” narrative
Binance CEO Begs to Differ
What’s weird is that Changpeng “CZ” Zhao, the chief executive of Binance, noted that the so-called “institutional herd” is not as present as some may say.
Speaking to Bloomberg, the Chinese-Canadian businessman suggested that Bitcoin’s move to $10,000 and beyond wasn’t mainly catalyzed by your average institutional player.
Instead, Zhao notes that it’s been a combination of retail and institutional investment. Backing this quip, the CZ cited data from Binance, claiming that 60% of all trading volume on Binance is a result of retail players — about the same percentage as it was last year.