ProShares ETF Targets Bitcoin Selloff

BITI, which seeks to obtain exposure through bitcoin futures contracts, will track the opposite performance of the S&P CME Bitcoin Futures Index each day. The launch comes as Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have struggled in sympathy with the broader stock market, which is contending with scorching-hot inflation.

The world’s largest cryptocurrency is currently trading around $20,000 per coin on Monday, well off its 52-week high of $68,990.90 hit last year, after briefly falling to a 52-week low of $17,601.58 per coin over the weekend. “As recent times have shown, bitcoin can drop in value,” ProShares CEO Michael Sapir said in a statement. “BITI affords investors who believe that the price of bitcoin will drop with an opportunity to potentially profit or to hedge their cryptocurrency holdings.”

ProShares will also launch BITIX on Tuesday, a mutual fund with the same investment objective as BITI. “With the additions of BITI and BITIX, ProShares and ProFunds will be the only fund families in the U.S. offering funds that allow investors to express their view on the direction of bitcoin — no matter whether they believe the price will go up or down,” Sapir added.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
BITO PROSHARES TRUST BITCOIN STRATEGY ETF 12.95 +0.23 +1.81%

The launch of BITI and BITIX comes after ProShares launched BITO, the first U.S. bitcoin-linked ETF, in October 2021, which attracted more than $1 billion in assets from the public in just two days. The firm also launched the first bitcoin-linked mutual fund, BTCFX, in July 2021.  ProShares, which offers one of the largest lineups of ETFs, manages more than $50 billion in assets in partnership with its affiliates.

Eight months after establishing the first U.S. bitcoin futures ETF, ProShares plans to launch the first short bitcoin-linked ETF on Tuesday in the U.S., the provider of investment products announced Monday. The ProShares Short Bitcoin Strategy, which will trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker BITI, is designed to give investors a way to profit from declines in the price of the cryptocurrency. It will have an expense ratio of 0.95%.

Bitcoin fell to new a new 2022 low over the weekend of $17,601.58, according to Coin Metrics, after six months of declines amid the broader sell-off in risk assets. “As recent times have shown, bitcoin can drop in value,” ProShares CEO Michael Sapir said in a news release Monday. “BITI affords investors who believe that the price of bitcoin will drop with an opportunity to potentially profit or to hedge their cryptocurrency holdings. BITI enables investors to conveniently obtain short exposure to bitcoin through buying an ETF in a traditional brokerage account.”

BITI will be the first ETF of its kind in the U.S. Horizons ETFs has a short bitcoin ETF listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange. ProShares said BITI is designed to deliver the opposite of the performance of the S&P CME Bitcoin Futures Index and that it seeks to obtain exposure through bitcoin futures contracts. How well-timed the launch is remains to be seen. Markets remain fraught with uncertainty as investors await next steps from the Federal Reserve and signs of peaking inflation, but many are still speculating about the crypto market being at or near a bottom.

On Monday, bitcoin sat about 70% from its all-time high, which it hit in early November just a couple weeks after ProShares launched the Bitcoin Strategy ETF (BITO). Bitcoin quickly reversed lower, and has been falling since then.

12:27
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07:28Roxe SPACs BlockchainCryptocurrencies

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Founders of $10 Billion Crypto Hedge Fund Have ‘Ghosted’ After Bets Go Bad

The co-founders of an influential multi-billion-dollar crypto hedge fund have suddenly gone MIA right at the moment that people want their money. Days of swirling rumors have been followed by harder evidence that Three Arrows Capital, or 3AC, is ghosting its business partners as it attempts to avoid insolvency after the firm overleveraged itself ahead of the recent “crypto winter,” which has plagued the industry and led to a steep decline in crypto prices.

Now, firms are scrambling to distance themselves from 3AC to assure customers that their funds won’t go down with the ship run by Zhu Su and Kyle Davies, two childhood friends who suddenly found themselves wielding billions in the Wild West of emerging crypto markets. “Losing a bet is one thing, but at least be honorable and not drag others into your bets who have nothing to do with it. Certainly don’t ghost on everyone since potentially, they could’ve helped you,” the head of trading at a firm that does business with 3AC said on Twitter.

The largely self-funded hedge fund has become a prominent investor in almost all arenas of the cryptocurrency industry, as well as a prolific borrower, making its inability to meet margin calls over the last week—money a firm has to pony up to cover losses—a subject of concern throughout the sector.

Rumors of issues at 3AC started to percolate over the last week, as crypto prices plunged and evidence emerged that the firm was frantically unloading tokens. “They’re not responding to anyone,” an unnamed source at a crypto trading firm told The Financial Times. As the frustration grew louder, 3AC’s normally prolific co-founders went silent, until Su sent out a cryptic and ominous tweet on Tuesday. “We are in the process of communicating with relevant parties and fully committed to working this out,” he wrote, without any additional context. He has not tweeted since, nor has Davies.

The head of trading at the Hong Kong-based firm 8 Blocks Capital, Danny Yuan, released a statement on Wednesday saying that 3AC had stopped responding after 8 Blocks requested a large withdrawal on Monday, June 13. After 3AC didn’t respond, a member of Yuan’s firm noticed that “~1m was missing from our accounts with them.” Additional attempts at contact went nowhere, and 8 Blocks Capital went elsewhere for information.

“What we learned is that they were leveraged long everywhere and were getting margin-called. Instead of answering the margin calls, they ghosted everyone. The platforms had no choice but to liquidate their positions, causing the markets to further dump,” Yuan said. In other words, 3AC had bet on crypto prices going up with borrowed funds (or “leverage” to use financial speak) meaning that any gains are higher but losses hurt much more. Yuan then called on platforms holding funds associated with 3AC to freeze them.

Zhu and Davies made their first public comments in an interview with the Wall Street Journal published on Friday morning, where they said that they were exploring asset sales and “rescue by another firm,” the outlet reported, and hoped to secure an arrangement with their creditors to give the firm some runway.

The apparent crisis afflicting 3AC is already sending ripples through the industry. On Thursday, the yield generation platform Finblox said that the company would pause reward distributions and limit withdrawals for all customers as it evaluated the effect of 3AC’s financial stress on its platform. 3AC is an investor in Finblox, the company said. 

The crypto lender BlockFi would not confirm if BlockFi had liquidated 3AC’s position, saying in a statement to Motherboard that it is against company policy to “comment on specific counterparties.” But BlockFi added that it “exercised our best business judgment recently with a large client that failed to meet its obligations on an overcollateralized margin loan.” (Unnamed sources told The Financial Times that BlockFi had indeed liquidated 3AC’s position.)

The stench of 3AC is so strong that even those who are not attached to the company have felt it necessary to distance themselves. Tether, the stablecoin currency, for one, issued a statement calling rumors that it had lending exposure to 3AC “categorically false.”  

The question is whether 3AC is a canary in the coal mine for crypto hedge funds, or just an overzealous fund that took too many risks. Mike Novogratz, the founder of Galaxy Digital Holdings, for one, has said he expects two-thirds of crypto hedge funds to soon fail.

Since its founding in 2012, 3AC has become one of the largest crypto hedge funds in the world, and its demise could cause trouble throughout the sector. Zhu and Davies, friends since high school who attended Columbia and joined Credit Suisse as derivatives traders together, started the fund while they lived in an apartment together, and have since become rumored to be “among the world’s biggest crypto holders,” according to Bloomberg.

3AC mostly (and maybe only) managed the co-founders’ own money, which Zhu claimed allowed 3AC “the ability to make very good decisions on market timing.” It also allowed for unusually large, risky bets, and for a while, the firm achieved astonishing results. The analytics firm Nansen estimated 3AC held $10 billion in blockchain assets as of March, and the company has investments all over the crypto ecosystem. As of December, that included a stake in the world’s biggest Bitcoin fund, the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust, that reportedly exceeded 5 percent.

 To increase the size of its bets, 3AC borrowed money from a number of firms, dramatically increasing its potential windfall. But when the crypto market started to crash, 3AC got hit hard. The hedge fund had invested in places like the play-to-earn game Axie Infinity and the Solana blockchain, whose token values have crashed in recent months. It also invested in Celsius, a crypto bank that has suspended withdrawals indefinitely amid rumors of insolvency. 3AC’s worst bet may have been Luna, a cryptocurrency that plummeted to near-zero in a dramatic implosion.

Now, 3AC appears to be scrambling to find money wherever it can, such as by selling massive amounts of tokens. One NFT fund the company had backed even moved all of its 70 pieces of digital art on SuperRare, which it had spent more than $20 million collecting, to a single address, indicating asset consolidation.

Ahead of the crash, Zhu and Davies professed an almost religious devotion to the potential of cryptocurrency. The libertarian Su had repeatedly pushed his “supercycle” thesis publicly, claiming crypto prices would continuously rise as it gained prominence relative to government currencies. “I also think we are entering an era where the potential of Bitcoin to become one of the key reserve currencies of people and nations is becoming clearer than ever,” Zhu told Bloombeg in April. “It will not be a smooth ride, but it will be a highly meaningful one for those who take the journey.”

On May 27, Zhu admitted that his grand supercycle theory was “regrettably wrong,” adding that “crypto will still thrive and change the world every day,” comments that Davies echoed in the Wall Street Journal. “We have always been believers in crypto and we still are,” he said.

By Maxwell Strachan

Source: Founders of $10 Billion Crypto Hedge Fund Have ‘Ghosted’ After Bets Go Bad

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A Crypto Bankruptsy Could be Investors Nightmare

Source: https://vigourtimes.com

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Bitcoin Brice Trades Around $21,000 As Crypto Firms Announce Layoffs

Cryptocurrencies have been sinking along with other higher-risk assets as the Federal Reserve steadily reverses the aggressive monetary policies it adopted earlier in the coronavirus pandemic. Lately, its efforts to raise interest rates to combat surging inflation have further dented investors‘ risk appetite. The market value of the entire crypto sector has fallen to less than $1 trillion from about $3 trillion in November, according to CoinMarketCap. Those falls reflect a significant drop in trading activity and momentum, and until that turns around, industry players like Coinbase are likely to remain under pressure, said KBW Managing Director Kyle Voigt.

Coinbase Chief Executive Brian Armstrong said the company had grown too quickly, expanding from about 1,250 employees at the start of last year to around 5,000 currently. “We saw the opportunities but we needed to massively scale our team to be positioned to compete in a broad array of bets,” he wrote in a note to staff. “While we tried our best to get this just right, in this case it is now clear to me that we over-hired.”

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
COIN COINBASE GLOBAL INC. 51.58 -0.43 -0.83%

The price of ether, the in-house currency of the Ethereum network, fell 4.5% to $1,187.30, its lowest close since Jan. 21, 2021. Over the weekend, the price fell below $1,360, the early 2019 high from the previous cycle. Other cryptocurrencies were mixed. Cardano fell 1.9%, but Solana was up 1.3% and Stellar was up 0.5%.

Source: Bitcoin price trades around $21,000 as crypto firms announce layoffs | Fox Business

BlockFi, a platform for trading and lending cryptocurrency, announced via a blog post on Monday that it’s laying off 20 percent of its 850 employees — around 170 to 200 people. CEO Zac Prince said in a Twitter thread that the layoffs can be traced to a “dramatic shift in macroeconomic conditions” and BlockFi’s push to become profitable.

It’s not the only crypto company letting workers go. On Friday, Crypto.com (the company with the Super Bowl ad featuring LeBron James) announced that it’s laying off around 260 workers, or around 5 percent of its workforce, according to a Twitter thread from its CEO, Kris Marszalek.

The layoffs come as the crypto market is struggling as a whole. The value of Bitcoin and Ethereum have been falling throughout Monday morning, and Celsius, a lending platform, has halted withdrawals, citing “extreme market conditions.” (BlockFi has specifically said that it has “no exposure to Celsius” on Twitter.) Binance, a large crypto exchange, paused Bitcoin withdrawals for about three hours, citing a technical issue, and within the past few months, we’ve seen coins like Terra essentially go to zero.

Crypto firms have struggled to weather the storm. Coinbase announced that it was slowing hiring in May and reportedly rescinded over 300 job offers the next month; several other companies, like Gemini, Mercado Bitcoin, and Bitso have also had to lay off at least 10 percent of their workers within the past month.

BlockFi says in its post that the layoffs come after a period of explosive growth. The company says it had “about 150 employees” at the end of 2020 and has since grown to a headcount of “over 850.” After the layoffs, however, the company will be down to around 600 employees.

Similarly, Crypto.com was riding high just a few short months ago. In November 2021, it reportedly paid $700 million to plaster its name onto a sports arena in Los Angeles, which was formerly known as the Staples Center. “In the next few years, people will look back at this moment as the moment when crypto crossed the chasm into the mainstream,” Marszalek told the Los Angeles Times when the naming deal, which is supposed to last for 20 years, was announced.

It’s easy to see why crypto companies have been hiring; the space has exploded during the pandemic with prices for major coins rocketing up, NFTs exploding onto the scene, and celebrities and companies alike hyping the blockchain. But, as 2022 has worn on and interest rates have gone up, the growth has started to reverse; trillions of dollars in value have been wiped out from the crypto market, NFT sales have slumped, and companies, including BlockFi, have run into trouble with regulators as governments try to figure out how to handle crypto. Not everyone who bought the boom has made it, and many in the space are predicting a “crypto winter.

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SoftBank Invests $200 Million In Brazil’s Largest Crypto Exchange

Brazil’s leading cryptocurrency exchange, Mercado Bitcoin raised $200 million from the SoftBank Latin America Fund, Mercado’s parent company 2TM Group announced today. The investment values 2TM Group at $2.1 billion and is SoftBank’s largest capital injection in a Latin America crypto company.

Following closely on the tails of SoftBank’s investment in the $250 million round raised by Mexican cryptocurrency exchange Bitso in May, the deal shows a growing interest in bringing bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to Latin America.

“This series B round will afford us to continue investing in our infrastructure, enabling us to scale up and meet the soaring demand for the blockchain-based financial market,“ says Roberto Dagnoni, executive chairman and CEO of 2TM Group. “We want to be the main solution provider for corporate players.”

The São Paulo-based exchange aims to increase the number of listed assets (the exchange currently lists approximately 50 tokens) and grow its 500-member team to 700 by year’s end. Further plans involve regional expansion with focuses on Mexico, Argentina, Chile and Colombia and growth acceleration across 2TM Group’s portfolio, which also include digital wallet provider MeuBank and digital custodian Bitrust (both are subject to regulatory approval).

Founded by brothers Gustavo and Mauricio Chamati in 2013, Mercado Bitcoin has become the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the country. In January, it scored its first financing round co-led by G2D/GP Investments and Parallax Ventures with participation from an array of other investors.

Like many of its counterparts, Mercado Bitcoin has seen significant growth over the past year, with its client base reaching 2.8 million in 2021 – more than 70% of the total number of individual investors on Brazil’s stock exchange B3. Approximately 700,000 clients signed up just between January and May.

Over the same period, trade volume on the exchange had increased to $5 billion, surpassing the total for its first seven years combined. “Every single month [of this year], we are trading the full volume of 2020,” says Dagnoni.

“Mercado Bitcoin is a regional leader in the crypto space and the leading crypto exchange in Brazil. They are tapping into a huge local and regional addressable market measured by potential use cases for crypto,” says Paulo Passoni, managing partner at SoftBank’s SBLA Advisers Corp. (which manages the SoftBank Latin America Fund).

“At SoftBank we look to invest in entrepreneurs who are challenging the status quo through tech-focused or tech-enabled business models that are disrupting an industry – Mercado Bitcoin is doing just that.”

Despite the rapid growth of the local crypto market, Brazilian regulators have been lagging behind. In 2018, Brazilian antitrust watchdog, the Administrative Council for Economic Defense (CADE), opened an investigation into the country’s largest banks for allegedly abusing their power by closing accounts of crypto brokerages. The probe was ongoing as of last year.

In April 2020, Senator Soraya Thronicke proposed an extended set of rules for Brazil’s “virtual asset” businesses, custodians and issuers, consumer protection, crypto taxation and criminal enforcement, however no apparent action has been taken on the bill so far. Nonetheless, Dagnoni says the nation’s regulatory environment is favorable, and the company is closely working with regulators “to build a consistent framework for alternative digital investments in Brazil, in line with its vision of a convergence of the traditional and blockchain-based financial markets.”

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

I report on cryptocurrencies and emerging use cases of blockchain. Born and raised in Russia, I graduated from NYU Abu Dhabi with a degree in economics and Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, where I focused on data and business reporting.

Source: SoftBank Invests $200 Million In Brazil’s Largest Crypto Exchange

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Critics:

SoftBank Group Corp. is a Japanese multinational conglomerate holding company headquartered in Minato, Tokyo. The Group primarily invests in companies operating in the technology, energy, and financial sectors. It also runs the Vision Fund, the world’s largest technology-focused venture capital fund, with over $100 billion in capital, backed by sovereign wealth funds from countries in the Middle East.

The company is known for the leadership by its founder and largest shareholder Masayoshi Son. It operates in broadband, fixed-line telecommunications, e-commerce, information technology, finance, media and marketing, and other areas.

SoftBank was ranked in the Forbes Global 2000 list as the 36th largest public company in the world, and the second largest publicly traded company in Japan after Toyota.

The logo of SoftBank is based on the flag of the Kaientai, a naval trading company that was founded in 1865, near the end of the Tokugawa shogunate, by Sakamoto Ryōma.

Although SoftBank does not affiliate itself to any traditional keiretsu, it has close ties with Mizuho Financial Group, its main lender.

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