Maven's Insights April 2021

30 April 2021

The main theme of April was without a doubt the Coinbase direct listing on NASDAQ. The IPO took place on the 14th of April. Coinbase shares, with the ticker COIN, were given a reference price of USD 250 a share. It is currently trading at roughly USD 300 a share, valuing the company at USD 55 billion. While the event might not have impacted the digital asset prices itself, it is definitely a sign that Bitcoin and digital assets are here to stay. We are very happy for Coinbase and hope this listing helps them with their mission to increase global economic freedom via the broad use of digital assets. 

This month brought us a positive shift in the approach of the US banks towards Bitcoin and other digital assets. J.P. Morgan, who in previous years has been outspoken against this asset class, has drastically changed their view on the topic. In fact, J.P. Morgan announced that they will allow its clients to invest in Bitcoin through their actively managed Bitcoin fund. Besides J.P. Morgan, US investment bank Goldman Sachs confirmed that it is close to offering crypto to its private wealth management clients and has appointed a new global head to manage the segment. Furthermore, the fifth largest American bank, U.S. Bank, announced its plans to offer crypto custodian services in the future. They also revealed to be in a strategic relationship with NYDIG as U.S. Bank has been selected to administer NYDIG’s ETF bitcoin fund this year, pending regulatory approvals. Lastly, State Street, the second-oldest bank in the U.S. with $3.1 trillion in assets under management, is providing the infrastructure for a new bank-grade trading platform for digital assets which is set to go live this year.

Once again, we are reporting Central Bank Digital Currency  (CBDC) news, however this time we are going to focus on the development led by the  “smaller” central banks. In April, the Central Bank of Sweden published a report on CBDC which revealed that the rapid speed at which cash is disappearing from circulation presents problems which can be solved by a digital currency under the control of a central bank. Additionally, the Central Bank of Thailand has stated that they want to start testing a CBDC in the second quarter of next year. Finally, the Russian Central Bank is aiming for 2023 to release their CBDC. As a result, we can observe that it is not just the ECB and the FED looking at CBDCs but also the somewhat smaller central banks which might be more willing to experiment with the new technology. 

More governmental news, as the European Investment Bank announced a bond offering which is far from being a regular one. In fact, it was the first EIB bond to be placed on the Ethereum blockchain. The bond is worth EUR 100M and will expire in April 2023. The sale was overseen by a few investment banks such as Goldman Sachs and Banco Santander. 

Adoption news from the Ethereum side of the ecosystem. The most popular Ethereum wallet, Metamask, has surpassed 5 million monthly active users. The growth of MAU has been rather impressive considering that we wrote about Metamask surpassing 1 million MAU only in October of last year.

NFTs have increasingly been in the spotlight over the last few months. While NFTs represent a large group of tokens, use-cases and also target audiences (from football fans to niche digital artists), corporations have also started to notice them. This resulted in the New York Stock Exchange announcing their NFT plans. The NFT is used as memorabilia for a company's first public stock trade on the NYSE. The NYSE states they are launching the NFTs to have “[..] a fun way to mark the instant a company joins our community.”. It is impressive to see the speed at which NFTs have captured the attention of various audiences, and we can’t wait to see what is next.

After the well-known crypto crackdown launched by the Chinese government a few years ago, it seems there is now a change in the tone from the country’s central bank as deputy governor of the People’s Bank of China recognizes Bitcoin and cryptocurrency as an investment alternative. We are curious to see how China will progress with their approach towards crypto in the coming years.

This month, we announced our two new venture investments. We co-led the seed round of Fuji DAO and participated in a funding round of NAOS Finance. Fuji DAO is a decentralized finance protocol. It aims to become the go-to borrowing aggregator in the space. The team was formed at a hackathon this year and we are excited to be backing them, to find out more about why and what their product exactly entails please read our publication about the investment. NAOS Finance, on the other hand, is a project that aims to allow for collateralization of loans by off-chain assets. They have currently onboarded over 2000 SME and originated USD 200+ million in loans. Read more about our investment into NAOS in our announcement