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Bitcoin Rally Attracts Wave Of Private Investment As Leading Blockchain VC Raises New $120 Million Fund – Forbes

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The bitcoin rally has seen the cryptocurrency climb to uncharted highs and this hasn’t just been reflected in the markets. Away from the exchanges and OTC desks setting the price of BTC, private and institutional investor interest is growing at pace. Evidence of this can be seen in the growth of crypto venture capital funds, which have raised billions of dollars in 2020.

On December 23rd, Seoul-based blockchain investment group Hashed revealed that it has raised $120 million for its first crypto fund. The firm, led by CEO Simon Kim, intends to invest in disruptive blockchain startups including base layer protocols similar to Ethereum. According to Kim, the next wave of crypto networks will mark the start of the “protocol economy,” an era in which data and value is transmitted globally by crypto networks using a shared public ledger. He predicts strong government and institutional support for this new paradigm and has had no trouble selling out the group’s first VC fund.

Investors Circle Blockchain Startups

Accredited investors are limited in terms of the crypto assets they can trade, primarily consisting of BTC and ETH via regulated brokers and custodians. Blockchain funds provide an alternative way of gaining exposure to digital assets and the ecosystem they support. As bitcoin has broken new records, surging past $22,000, some investors are looking beyond the 12-year-old cryptocurrency to bootstrapping the next wave of blockchain networks.

Data from research group The Block shows a record $900 million was invested in blockchain startups in Q3 of 2020. Investors rushed to bootstrap decentralized finance projects in particular, including those focused on portfolio management, lending, and derivatives.

Private Investors Fund Public Networks

No one knows where Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto originated, with speculation placing him everywhere from London to LA. What can be said is that the movement he started, founded on blockchain technology, has become a borderless industry that’s attracting major investment around the globe. In the U.S., Andreessen Horowitz subsidiary a16z was founded to seek out promising crypto startups, alongside firms like Pantera Capital and Galaxy Digital, led by veteran investor Mike Novogratz.

In Asia, meanwhile, Hashed is not alone in securing private investment to fund public blockchain networks. A number of cryptocurrency exchanges, including Binance and BitMax, have their own VC arms, tasked with nurturing next generation crypto companies. The symbiotic relationship often results in the same exchanges listing the native token of the projects they’ve incubated once they reach maturity.

It’s not just VCs that have sought exposure to blockchain either. Family offices and hedge funds have also taken an interest in the space. Harvard University’s investment arm is one endowment fund that has already jumped into the crypto market, joining two other investors in an $11.5 million investment in crypto company Blockstack. Yale University is also known to have made a significant cryptocurrency investment.

The Institutional Case for Crypto

Bitcoin is going through the early stages of a new asset class, from suffering early bubbles to attracting scammers with their get-rich-quick schemes. The frothiness of the market has been tempered by robust products that cater to a professional audience. Crypto is significantly more mature now than in 2017 when BTC last approached the heights it is now trading at. Today, the industry supports a healthy futures market, while enhanced options and custody have all anchored bitcoin while making it palatable to institutional investors.

Elon Musk’s flirtation with bitcoin, which has largely consisted of tweeting crypto memes to his 41 million followers, hints at a deeper interest in the digital currency. In a typically Musk-ian exchange on December 20, the Tesla CEO was encouraged by MicroStrategy’s Michael Saylor to follow his lead and convert some of Tesla’s cash reserves to BTC.

“Are such large transactions even possible?” pondered Musk, to which bitcoin bull Saylor replied in the affirmative, before offering to show Musk how.

Bitcoin’s low correlation to traditional assets has compelled some investors to rebalance portfolios that were heavy on bonds and equities, allocating a tranche to BTC. Bolder investors, however, are looking beyond bitcoin to the possibilities afforded by new blockchain protocols, where the risk-reward is higher, but so is the potential for outsized returns.

Corporations Catch the Crypto Bug

While institutional investors have been buying bitcoin, and investing in the industry that’s formed around it, companies have been trialling their own blockchain solutions. Hashed has publicly supported Kakao, responsible for developing the country’s Klatyn blockchain, and LINE blockchain, owned by Tokyo’s LVC Corporation. Big Four accountancy firm KPMG, meanwhile, has expanded its blockchain strategy, supporting Microsoft, Tomia, and R3 in developing a solution for 5G network, and filing its own blockchain patents.

Against this backdrop of corporate innovation and private investment in blockchain, VCs have seen crypto funds fill up fast. This digital gold rush has prompted a booming business in picks and shovels – the tools and apps for interacting with the next wave of decentralized protocols.

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Growth in Halal investing gives Muslims opportunity align investments with values – Investment Executive

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Najar says the main driver for his investment decisions is religious.

“I cannot do the other way, it’s just impossible. Even if there is money to be made I cannot make it that way,” he said from Vancouver.

The money he invests must do no harm and be beneficial for society. Usaries are forbidden because the Qur’an says Muslims aren’t allowed to profit from lending money, so earning interest from an individual or bank is prohibited.

Socially responsible investing, including those based on religious beliefs, is a growing trend in Canada with assets under management surging to $3.2 trillion last year, up from $2.1 trillion in 2017, according to the Canadian Responsible Investment Trends Report.

Responsible investing represents nearly 62% of Canada’s investment industry, up from 50.6% two years ago.

Investing based on religious values remains a small but growing subsection of this trend.

Like all investing, those who make decisions based on their faith should educate themselves and find a trusted financial adviser, said Najar.

That’s especially crucial for Halal investing because most financial advisers are not familiar with the detailed web of options and restrictions, said Jesse Reitberger, co-founder of Canadian Islamic Wealth, who guides Najar’s moves.

Reitberger has focused on helping the Muslim community to adhere to financial tenets of the Qur’an since converting to Islam in 2014.

He said many Muslims have sat on the sidelines or invested and just plead ignorance.

“They just keep their money either sitting in a chequing account or under their mattress at home,” he said from Winnipeg.

For many Muslims, especially older generations, that’s meant saving cash to make purchases of real estate, cars or gold.

Canada’s Muslim population exceeds one million and is expected to become the second-largest religion by 2030.

Finding investments that are Islamic compliant can be a challenge because Canada is an interest-based economy, said Reitberger.

The Dow Jones Islamic Index and S&P/TSX 60 Shariah contain several funds that hold permissible investments.

Other faiths have taken similar steps to investing, albeit without any prohibition on debt.

The Mennonite Savings and Credit Union was formed 56 years ago to allow members to “see mutual aid put into faithful practice.”

It created a family of socially responsible funds to help investors bridge the gap between their principles and the way they invest their money.

Renamed the Kindred Credit Union in 2016 to broaden its reach, about 70% of its 25,000 members have a faith-based affiliation.

“People have taken a really big interest in this simply because it allows them to align all aspects of their lives to reflect their beliefs including their finances,” said Tim Fox, director of wealth and investments.

Screens are put in place to exclude investments in alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, gambling, military and weapons, along with those that have negative impacts on human rights, employees and animal welfare.

“Those screens continue to evolve as a social awareness evolves. As a community, as a society we decide what is important and what we’re willing to invest in and not invest in.”

Kitchener, Ont.-based Meritas Financial was created early on because there were very few options available, added Kindred CEO Ian Thomas. Meritas Financial, a mutual fund company, merged with Qtrade Financial Management Inc. in 2010.

“Over the last two decades, with acceleration over the last 10 years, all of a sudden values or socially responsible investing or responsible investing has really come to the forefront and the outcome has become more mainstream.”

Other financial institutions that provide faith-inspired options include Khalsa Credit Union. It helps British Columbia’s Sikh community while Edmonton’s Christian Credit Union applies “Christian values to financial services.”

Companies such as Wealthsimple and Manzil have sprung up in recent years to fill in gaps for the Muslim community.

Online investment firm Wealthsimple said it is preparing to launch its Shariah-compliant ETF as early as next month to replace its current offering of 50 stocks.

It will contain more than 150 stocks and increased diversification.

“One of the problems that Shariah investors have is you end up screening out entire industries from how they can invest,” chief investment officer Ben Reeves said in an interview.

He said Shariah-compliant funds can generate similar returns to regular investment vehicles, noting that its current offering, launched in 2017, has returned about six per cent annually.

Mohamad Sawwaf, co-founder and CEO of Toronto-based Islamic finance company Manzil, created its own diversified portfolio offering — Manzil Halal Portfolios — in partnership with CI Direct Investing, the roboadviser arm of CI Financial Inc.

The portfolio includes alternatives to fixed income like Islamic mortgages that are based on real and hard assets. Meanwhile, New York-base Wahed Invest LLC offers an ETF that invests in Shariah compliant stocks.

“This is a very underserved community and this is about financial inclusion because they’re currently excluded within the Canadian marketplace,” said Sawwaf.

Sawwaf said market research has indicated that more than 70% of Muslim Canadians would adopt Halal investing if products are available.

That’s particularly true of younger Muslims who are more interested in investing than older generations.

Restrictions on fixed income end up helping investors to do well, added Sameer Azam, investment adviser at RBC Wealth Management.

“A lot of the criteria pushes you to companies with lower leverage so at the end of the day we see a lot of quality in our clients’ portfolio,” he said.

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Halal investing gives Muslims opportunity to make money in line with religious values – BNN

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TORONTO — Ahmed Najar only started investing two years ago after discovering a way to do so that aligns with his Muslim values.

The 36-year-old lab researcher turned to Halal investing that screens out forbidden investments such as pork, alcohol, tobacco, weapons, adult entertainment and the biggest no-no of all: debt, bonds or interest.

Najar says the main driver for his investment decisions is religious.

“I cannot do the other way, it’s just impossible. Even if there is money to be made I cannot make it that way,” he said from Vancouver.

The money he invests must do no harm and be beneficial for society. Usaries are forbidden because the Qur’an says Muslims aren’t allowed to profit from lending money, so earning interest from an individual or bank is prohibited.

Socially responsible investing, including those based on religious beliefs, is a growing trend in Canada with assets under management surging to $3.2 trillion last year, up from $2.1 trillion in 2017, according to the Canadian Responsible Investment Trends Report.

The rise of ESG investing

Paul Harris, partner and portfolio manager at Harris Douglas Asset Management, talks about the challenges ahead for companies and money managers as climate change and ESG investing move to the forefront of the investment world.

Responsible investing represents nearly 62 per cent of Canada’s investment industry, up from 50.6 per cent two years ago.

Investing based on religious values remains a small but growing subsection of this trend.

Like all investing, those who make decisions based on their faith should educate themselves and find a trusted financial adviser, said Najar.

That’s especially crucial for Halal investing because most financial advisers are not familiar with the detailed web of options and restrictions, said Jesse Reitberger, co-founder of Canadian Islamic Wealth, who guides Najar’s moves.

Reitberger has focused on helping the Muslim community to adhere to financial tenets of the Qur’an since converting to Islam in 2014.

He said many Muslims have sat on the sidelines or invested and just plead ignorance.

“They just keep their money either sitting in a chequing account or under their mattress at home,” he said from Winnipeg.

For many Muslims, especially older generations, that’s meant saving cash to make purchases of real estate, cars or gold.

Canada’s Muslim population exceeds one million and is expected to become the second-largest religion by 2030.

Finding investments that are Islamic compliant can be a challenge because Canada is an interest-based economy, said Reitberger.

The Dow Jones Islamic Index and S&P/TSX 60 Shariah contain several funds that hold permissible investments.

Other faiths have taken similar steps to investing, albeit without any prohibition on debt.

The Mennonite Savings and Credit Union was formed 56 years ago to allow members to “see mutual aid put into faithful practice.”

It created a family of socially responsible funds to help investors bridge the gap between their principles and the way they invest their money.

Renamed Kindred Credit Union in 2016 to broaden its reach, about 70 per cent of its 25,000 members have a faith-based affiliation.

“People have taken a really big interest in this simply because it allows them to align all aspects of their lives to reflect their beliefs including their finances,” said Tim Fox, director of wealth and investments.

Screens are put in place to exclude investments in alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, gambling, military and weapons, along with those that have negative impacts on human rights, employees and animal welfare.

“Those screens continue to evolve as a social awareness evolves. As a community, as a society we decide what is important and what we’re willing to invest in and not invest in.”

Kitchener, Ont.-based Meritas Financial was created early on because there were very few options available, added Kindred CEO Ian Thomas.

“Over the last two decades, with acceleration over the last 10 years, all of a sudden values or socially responsible investing or responsible investing has really come to the forefront and the outcome has become more mainstream.”

Other financial institutions that provide faith-inspired options include Khalsa Credit Union. It helps British Columbia’s Sikh community while Edmonton’s Christian Credit Union applies “Christian values to financial services.”

Companies such as Wealthsimple and Manzil have sprung up in recent years to fill in gaps for the Muslim community.

Online investment firm Wealthsimple said it is preparing to launch its Shariah-compliant ETF as early as next month to replace its current offering of 50 stocks.

It will contain more than 150 stocks and increased diversification.

“One of the problems that Shariah investors have is you end up screening out entire industries from how they can invest,” chief investment officer Ben Reeves said in an interview.

He said Shariah-compliant funds can generate similar returns to regular investment vehicles, noting that Its current offering launched in 2017 has returned about six per cent annually.

Mohamad Sawwaf, co-founder and CEO of Toronto-based Islamic finance company Manzil, created its own diversified portfolio offering — Manzil Halal Portfolios — in partnership with CI Direct Investing, the roboadviser arm of CI Financial Inc.

The portfolio includes alternatives to fixed income like Islamic mortgages that are based on real and hard assets, while Wahed Invest’s ETF invests in Shariah compliant stocks.

“This is a very underserved community and this is about financial inclusion because they’re currently excluded within the Canadian marketplace,” he said.

Sawwaf said market research has indicated that more than 70 per cent of Muslim Canadians would adopt Halal investing if products are available.

That’s particularly true of younger Muslims who are more interested in investing than older generations.

Restrictions on fixed income end up helping investors to do well, added Sameer Azam, investment adviser at RBC Wealth Management.

“A lot of the criteria pushes you to companies with lower leverage so at the end of the day we see a lot of quality in our clients portfolio,” he said.
 

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Halal investing gives Muslims opportunity to make money in line with religious values – OrilliaMatters

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TORONTO — Ahmed Najar only started investing two years ago after discovering a way to do so that aligns with his Muslim values.

The 36-year-old lab researcher turned to Halal investing that screens out forbidden investments such as pork, alcohol, tobacco, weapons, adult entertainment and the biggest no-no of all: debt, bonds or interest.

Najar says the main driver for his investment decisions is religious.

“I cannot do the other way, it’s just impossible. Even if there is money to be made I cannot make it that way,” he said from Vancouver.

The money he invests must do no harm and be beneficial for society. Usaries are forbidden because the Qur’an says Muslims aren’t allowed to profit from lending money, so earning interest from an individual or bank is prohibited.

Socially responsible investing, including those based on religious beliefs, is a growing trend in Canada with assets under management surging to $3.2 trillion last year, up from $2.1 trillion in 2017, according to the Canadian Responsible Investment Trends Report.

Responsible investing represents nearly 62 per cent of Canada’s investment industry, up from 50.6 per cent two years ago.

Investing based on religious values remains a small but growing subsection of this trend.

Like all investing, those who make decisions based on their faith should educate themselves and find a trusted financial adviser, said Najar.

That’s especially crucial for Halal investing because most financial advisers are not familiar with the detailed web of options and restrictions, said Jesse Reitberger, co-founder of Canadian Islamic Wealth, who guides Najar’s moves.

Reitberger has focused on helping the Muslim community to adhere to financial tenets of the Qur’an since converting to Islam in 2014.

He said many Muslims have sat on the sidelines or invested and just plead ignorance.

“They just keep their money either sitting in a chequing account or under their mattress at home,” he said from Winnipeg.

For many Muslims, especially older generations, that’s meant saving cash to make purchases of real estate, cars or gold.

Canada’s Muslim population exceeds one million and is expected to become the second-largest religion by 2030.

Finding investments that are Islamic compliant can be a challenge because Canada is an interest-based economy, said Reitberger.

The Dow Jones Islamic Index and S&P/TSX 60 Shariah contain several funds that hold permissible investments.

Other faiths have taken similar steps to investing, albeit without any prohibition on debt.

The Mennonite Savings and Credit Union was formed 56 years ago to allow members to “see mutual aid put into faithful practice.” 

It created a family of socially responsible funds to help investors bridge the gap between their principles and the way they invest their money. 

Renamed Kindred Credit Union in 2016 to broaden its reach, about 70 per cent of its 25,000 members have a faith-based affiliation.

“People have taken a really big interest in this simply because it allows them to align all aspects of their lives to reflect their beliefs including their finances,” said Tim Fox, director of wealth and investments.

Screens are put in place to exclude investments in alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, gambling, military and weapons, along with those that have negative impacts on human rights, employees and animal welfare.

“Those screens continue to evolve as a social awareness evolves. As a community, as a society we decide what is important and what we’re willing to invest in and not invest in.”

Kitchener, Ont.-based Meritas Financial was created early on because there were very few options available, added Kindred CEO Ian Thomas.

“Over the last two decades, with acceleration over the last 10 years, all of a sudden values or socially responsible investing or responsible investing has really come to the forefront and the outcome has become more mainstream.”

Other financial institutions that provide faith-inspired options include Khalsa Credit Union. It helps British Columbia’s Sikh community while Edmonton’s Christian Credit Union applies “Christian values to financial services.”

Companies such as Wealthsimple and Manzil have sprung up in recent years to fill in gaps for the Muslim community.

Online investment firm Wealthsimple said it is preparing to launch its Shariah-compliant ETF as early as next month to replace its current offering of 50 stocks.

It will contain more than 150 stocks and increased diversification.

“One of the problems that Shariah investors have is you end up screening out entire industries from how they can invest,” chief investment officer Ben Reeves said in an interview.

He said Shariah-compliant funds can generate similar returns to regular investment vehicles, noting that Its current offering launched in 2017 has returned about six per cent annually.

Mohamad Sawwaf, co-founder and CEO of Toronto-based Islamic finance company Manzil, created its own diversified portfolio offering — Manzil Halal Portfolios — in partnership with CI Direct Investing, the roboadviser arm of CI Financial Inc.

The portfolio includes alternatives to fixed income like Islamic mortgages that are based on real and hard assets, while Wahed Invest’s ETF invests in Shariah compliant stocks.

“This is a very underserved community and this is about financial inclusion because they’re currently excluded within the Canadian marketplace,” he said.

Sawwaf said market research has indicated that more than 70 per cent of Muslim Canadians would adopt Halal investing if products are available. 

That’s particularly true of younger Muslims who are more interested in investing than older generations.

Restrictions on fixed income end up helping investors to do well, added Sameer Azam, investment adviser at RBC Wealth Management.

“A lot of the criteria pushes you to companies with lower leverage so at the end of the day we see a lot of quality in our clients portfolio,” he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021.

Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press

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