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Institutional Investment in Crypto: Top 10 Takeaways of 2019 – Coindesk



post is part of CoinDesk’s 2019 Year in Review, a collection of 100+ op-eds,
interviews and takes on the state of blockchain and the world. Scott Army is
the founder and CEO of digital asset manager Vision Hill Group. The following
is a summary of the report:
An Institutional Take on the 2019/2020 Digital Asset Market”.

No. 1: There’s bitcoin, and then there’s everything else.

industry is currently segmented into two main categories: Bitcoin and
everything else. “Everything else” includes: Web3 innovation, Decentralized
Finance (“DeFi”), Decentralized Autonomous Organizations, smart contract
platforms, security tokens, digital identity, data privacy, gaming, enterprise
blockchain or distributed ledger technology, and much more.

Non-crypto natives are seldom aware that there are multiple blockchains. Bitcoin, by virtue of it being the first blockchain network brought into the mainstream and by being the largest digital asset by market capitalization, is often the first stop for many newcomers and likely will continue to be for the foreseeable future.

No. 2: Bitcoin is perhaps market beta, for now.

In traditional equity markets, beta is defined as a measure of volatility, or unsystematic risk an individual stock possesses relative to the systematic risk of the market as a whole.  The difficulty in defining “market beta” in a space like digital assets is that there is no consensus for a market proxy like the S&P 500 or Dow Jones.  Since the space is still very early in its development, and bitcoin has dominant market share (~68 percent at the time of writing), bitcoin is often viewed as the obvious choice for beta, despite the drawbacks of defining “market beta” as a single asset with idiosyncratic tendencies.

size and its institutionalization (futures, options, custody, and clear
regulatory status as a commodity), have enabled it to be an attractive first
step for allocators looking to get exposure (both long and short) to the
digital asset market, suggesting that bitcoin is perhaps positioned to be digital
asset market beta, for now.

No. 3: Despite slow conversion, substantial progress was made on growing institutional investor interest in 2019.

education, education.  Blockchain
technology and digital assets represent an extraordinarily complex asset class
– one that requires a non-trivial time commitment to undergo a proper learning
curve. While handfuls of institutions have already started to invest in the
space, a very small amount of institutional capital has actually made it in
(relative to the broader institutional landscape), gauged by the size of the
asset class and the public market trading volumes. This has led many to
repeatedly ask: “when will the herd actually come?”

The reality is that
institutional investors are still learning – slowly getting comfortable – and
this process will continue to take time.  Despite educational progress through 2019, some
institutions are wondering if it’s too early to be investing in this space, and
whether they can potentially get involved in investing in digital assets in the
future and still generate positive returns, but in ways that are de-risked
relative to today.

Despite a few other
challenges imposed on larger institutional allocators with respect to investing
in digital assets, true believers inside these large organizations are
emerging, and the processes for forming a digital asset strategy are either
getting started or already underway. 

No. 4: Long simplicity, short complexity

Another trend we
observed emerge this year was a shift away from complexity and toward
simplicity. We saw significant growth in simple,
passive, low-cost structures to capture beta. With the lowest-friction investor
adoption focused on the largest liquid asset in the space – bitcoin – the
proliferation of single asset vehicles has increased.  These private vehicles are a result of
delayed approval of an official bitcoin ETF by the SEC.

In addition to the Grayscale
Bitcoin Trust
, other bitcoin-focused
products this year include the launch of Bakkt, the launch of Galaxy Digital’s two new
bitcoin funds
, Fidelity’s
bitcoin product rollout, TD Ameritrade’s bitcoin trading service on Nasdaq via its brokerage platform, 3iQ’s
recent favorable ruling for a bitcoin fund and Stone Ridge Asset Management’s recent SEC approval for its NYDIG Bitcoin Strategy Fund, based on cash-settled bitcoin

We also observed a growing
institutional appetite for simpler hedge fund and venture fund structures. For
the last several years, many fundamental-focused crypto-native hedge funds
operated hybrid structures with the use of side-pockets that enabled a barbell
strategy approach to investing in both the public and private digital asset
markets.  These hedge funds tend to have
longer lock-up periods – typically two or three years – and low liquidity.
While this may be attractive from an opportunistic perspective, the reality is it’s
quite complicated from an institutional perspective for reporting purposes. 

No. 5: Active management’s been challenged, but differentiated sources of alpha are emerging.

For the year-to-date period ended Q3 2019, active managers were collectively up 30 percent on an absolute return basis according to our tracking of approximately 50 institutional-quality funds, compared to bitcoin being up 122 percent over the same time period. 

Bitcoin’s performance this year, particularly in Q2 2019, has made it clear that its parabolic ascents challenge the ability of active managers to outperform bitcoin during the windows they occur. Active managers generally need to justify the fees they charge investors by outperforming their benchmark(s), which are often beta proxies, yet at the same time they need to avoid imprudent risk behavior that can potentially have swift and sizable negative effects on their portfolios. 

Interestingly, active management performance from the beginning of 2018 consistently outperformed passively holding bitcoin (with the exception of “opportunistic” managers who also take advantage of yield and staking opportunities, as of May 2019). This is largely due to various risk management techniques used to mitigate the negative performance drawdowns experienced throughout the extended market sell-off in 2018.

Source: Vision Hill Group

Although 2019 has challenged the large-scale
success of these alpha strategies, they are nonetheless in the process of
proving themselves out through various market cycles, and we expect this to be
a growing theme in 2020.

No. 6: Token value accrual: Transitioning from subjective to objective

At the end of Q3 2019, according to, there were 1,721 decentralized applications built on top of ethereum, with 604 of them actively used – more than any other blockchain. Ethereum also had 1.8 million total unique users, with just under 400,000 of them active – also more than any other blockchain. Yet, despite all this growing network activity, the value of ETH has remained largely flat throughout most of 2019 and is on track to end the year down approximately 10 percent at the time of writing (by comparison, BTC has nearly doubled in value over the same period). This begs the question: is ETH adequately capturing the economic value of the ethereum network’s activity, and DeFi in particular?

A new fundamental metric was introduced
earlier this year by Chris Burniske – the Network Value to Token
Value (“NVTV”) ratio – to ascertain whether the value of all assets anchored
into a platform can be greater than the value of the base platform’s asset.

The ETH NVTV ratio has steadily declined throughout the last few years. There are likely to be several reasons for this, but I think one theory summarizes it best: most applications and tokens built and issued atop ethereum may be parasitic. ETH token holders are paying for the security of all these applications and tokens, via the inflation rate that is currently given to the miners – dilution for ETH holders, but not for holders of ethereum-based tokens.

This is not a bullish or bearish
statement on ETH; rather it is an observation of early signs of network stack
value capture in the space.

No. 7: Money or not, software-powered collateral economies are here

Another trend we observed this year is a larger migration away from “cryptocurrencies” in an ideological currency (e.g., money/payment and a means of exchange) sense, and toward digital assets for financial applications and economic utility.  A form of economic utility that took the stage this year is the notion of software-powered collateral economies. People generally want to hold assets with disinflationary or deflationary supply curves, because part of their promise is that they should store value well.  Smart contracts enable us to program the characteristics of any asset, thus it is not irrational to assume that it’s only a matter of time until traditional collateral assets get digitized and put to economic use on blockchain networks. 

benefit of digital collateral is that it can be liquid and economically
productive in its nature while at the same time serving its primary purpose (to
collateralize another asset), yet without possessing the risks of traditional
rehypothecation. If assets can be allocated for multiple purposes
simultaneously, with the risks appropriately managed, we should see more
liquidity, lower cost of borrowing, and more effective allocation of capital in
ways the traditional world may not be able to compete with. 

No. 8: Network lifecycles: An established supply side meets a quiet but emerging demand side.

Supply side services in digital asset
networks are services provided by a third party to a decentralized network in
exchange for compensation allocated by that network. Examples include mining,
staking, validation, bonding, curation, node operation and more, done to help bootstrap
and grow these networks. Incentivizing the supply side is important in digital
assets to facilitate their growth early in their lifecycles, from initial fundraising
and distribution through the bootstrapping phase to eventual mainnet launches.

While there has been significant growth of this supply side of the equation in
2019 from funds, companies, and developers, the open question is how and when
demand for these services will pick up. Our view is that as developer
infrastructure continues to mature and activity begins to move “up the stack”
toward the application layer, more obvious manifestations of product-market fit
are likely to emerge with cleaner and simpler interfaces that will attract high
volumes of users in the process. In essence, it is important to build the
necessary infrastructure first (the supply side) to enable buy-in from the end
users of those services (the demand side).

No. 9:  We are in the late innings of the smart contract wars.

While ethereum leads the space on adoption and moves closer to executing on its scalability initiatives, dozens of smart contract competitors fundraised in the market throughout 2018 and 2019 in an attempt to dethrone ethereum.   A handful have formally launched their chains and operate in mainnet as of the end of 2019, while many others remain in testnet or have stalled in development.

been particularly interesting to observe is the accelerative pace of innovation
– not just technologically, but economically (incentive mechanisms) and
socially (community building) as well. 
We expect many more smart contract competitors operating privately as of
Q4 2019 to launch their mainnets in 2020. Thus, given the incoming magnitude of
publicly observable experimentations throughout 2020, if a smart contract
platform does not launch in 2020, it is likely to become disadvantageously
positioned relative to the rest of the landscape as it relates to capturing
substantial developer mindshare and future users and creating defensible
network effects.

No. 10: Product-market fit is coming, if not already here

We don’t think human and financial capital would have
continued pouring into the digital asset space in such great magnitude over the
last several years if there wasn’t a focus on solving at least one very clear
problem. The questionable sustainability of modern monetary theory is one of
them, and Ray Dalio of Bridgerwater Associates has been quite vocal about it. Big Tech centralization is another. There are also growing
global concerns related to data privacy and identity. And let’s not forget
cybersecurity. The list goes on. We are at the tip of the iceberg as it
relates to the products and applications blockchain technology enables, and mainstream users will come with growing
manifestations of product-market fit. As more time and attention gets spent on
diagnosing problems and working on solutions, the industry will begin to
achieve its full potential. Facebook’s Libra and
Twitter’s Bluesky initiative confirm that as an industry we are heading in the
right direction.  

A 2020 look ahead

We see 2020 shaping up to be one of the brightest years on record for the digital asset industry. To be clear, this is not a price forecast; if we exclusively measured the health of the industry from a fundamental progress perspective, by various accounts and measures we should have been in a raging bull market for the last two years, and that has not been the case. Rather, we expect 2020 to be a year of accelerated industry maturation.

Source: Vision Hill Group

Digital assets are still an emerging asset class with many quickly evolving narratives, trends, and investment strategies.  It is important to note, that not all strategies are suitable for all investors. The size of allocations to each category will and should vary depending on the specific allocator’s type, risk tolerance, return expectations, liquidity needs, time horizon and other factors. What is encouraging is that as the asset class continues to grow and mature, the opacity slowly dissipates and clearly defined frameworks for evaluation will continue to emerge. This will hopefully lead to more informed investment decisions across the space. The future is bright for 2020 and beyond.

Disclosure Read More

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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FedDev Ontario Investment Contribution to TRCA Will Support Enhanced Visitor Experiences at Bruce's Mill Conservation Park – TRCA



August 9, 2022, Toronto, ON – Visitors to Toronto and Region Conservation Authority’s (TRCA) Bruce’s Mill Conservation Park in Stouffville, ON will enjoy enhanced experiences thanks to an investment contribution from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) that will help to revitalize the park infrastructure.

The Honourable Helena Jaczek, Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario and Member of Parliament for Markham-Stouffville made the funding announcement today at Bruce’s Mill.

The investment contribution of up to $740,715 will support improvements at Bruce’s Mill intended to positively impact both the local community and visitors to the park, allowing more people to re-engage with their communities and nature.

These improvements include: the installation of two new picnic shelters, the addition of 15 new accessible picnic tables for community use, and the upgrading of three washrooms to improve accessibility and physical distancing components. In addition, the park access roads and parking lots will be paved and repaired.

Left to right: Aaron D’Souza, Senior Manager, Major Contracts, TRCA; Joe Petta, General Manager, Conservation Parks and Golf, TRCA; The Honourable Helena Jaczek, Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario; Michael Tolensky, Chief Financial and Operating Officer, TRCA, attend today’s announcement at Bruce’s Mill Conservation Park. Photo courtesy of Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario
Dignitaries at announcement of federal investment contribution to revitalize infrastructure at Bruces Mill Conservation Park
The Honourable Helena Jaczek, Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (left), and Michael Tolensky, Chief Financial and Operating Officer, TRCA (right), attend today’s announcement at Bruce’s Mill Conservation Park. Photo courtesy of Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario


“Our government is investing in community infrastructure to support the mental and physical health of Canadians by promoting social interaction and physical activity. This Canada Community Revitalization Fund investment for Toronto and Region Conservation Authority will help revitalize the Bruce’s Mill Conservation Park’s public infrastructure. This revitalization will help draw visitors to Bruce’s Mill, where they can come together, enjoy the outdoors and be active.”
The Honourable Helena Jaczek, Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario

“The investment by FedDev Ontario will not only improve visitor experiences at Bruce’s Mill but will accommodate the increased demand for outdoor recreation and provide safe alternative recreational activities as we all recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. It is investments like these that allow TRCA to keep our parks and trails in a state of good repair while increasing community connection and improving accessibility to our visitors.”
– Michael Tolensky, Chief Financial and Operating Officer, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA)

TRCA’s Bruce’s Mill Conservation Park

Conveniently located off Highway 404, Bruce’s Mill Conservation Park is a popular destination for the five million residents within our jurisdiction and from many tourists from around the world. In addition to picnic areas and trails, recreational facilities at the park include a professionally designed golf driving range and a BMX cycling track. To learn more visit

About Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA)
With more than 60 years of experience, TRCA is one of 36 Conservation Authorities in Ontario, created to safeguard and enhance the health and well-being of <span data-trca-tooltip="


The entire area of land whose runoff water, sediments and dissolved materials (nutrients and contaminants) drain into a lake, river, creek, or estuary. Its boundary can be located on the ground by connecting all the highest points of the area around the river, stream or creek, where water starts to flow when there is rain. It is not man-made and it does not respect political boundaries.” class=”glossary-term”>watershed communities through the protection and <span data-trca-tooltip="


To repair or re-establish functioning ecosystems; the process of altering a site to establish a defined, native, historic ecosystem; the goal is to emulate the structure, function, diversity and dynamics of a specified ecosystem.” class=”glossary-term”>restoration of the natural environment and the <span data-trca-tooltip="

ecological services

Ecological services are defined as the overall benefits to humans arising from a functioning healthy ecosystem, which includes improved water quality and quantity, air quality, soil stabilization, flood mitigation, balanced hydrologic regimes, biological processes and biodiversity. Ultimately, the streams in TRCA’s watersheds run into Lake Ontario and have a direct influence on the water quality and habitat along the waterfront.” class=”glossary-term”>ecological services the environment provides. More than five million people live within TRCA-managed watersheds, and many others work in and visit destinations across the jurisdiction. These nine watersheds, plus their collective Lake Ontario waterfront shorelines, span six upper-tier and 15 lower-tier municipalities. Some of Canada’s largest and fastest growing municipalities, including Toronto, Markham and Vaughan, are located entirely within TRCA’s jurisdiction.

To learn more about TRCA, visit

Media Contact

Shereen Daghstani
Senior Manager, Communications, Marketing and Events
Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA)

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Short Term vs Long Term Investments: Gauging the saving spectrum – Economic Times



Quick wealth creation is what financial markets consider; however, investing as a practice is a long-term process. While an investor’s capital can be invested in the short-term and long-term, both forms of investment have their merits and demerits.

Typically, short-term investments involve less risk than long-term investments. Long-term investments give the investor’s money a substantial period to grow and recover from major dips in the market.

Having clear and crisp financial goals can help the investor decide whether to choose short or long-term investments and which vehicles within those categories aim towards personalized investment gains.

Before choosing any investment strategy, the investor ideally needs to do proper research on which asset types suits their need.

What is suitable for one investor might not be in sync with another’s financial objectives, so one must consider their overall goals along with the risks one is willing to take.

Short-term investments have a validity period typically up to three years – high liquidity instruments, generally involving lesser market risks.

Also, these temporary investments are mostly used for parking excess funds for a short period. Short-term investments are highly liquid and hence are used by investors to meet expected near-future expenses.

Less risky in nature, these short-term investment products have a short tenure and give predictable returns as compared to long-term investments be it –

Treasury bills which can be redeemed within 91 days and is a high liquidity instrument.

● Gilt Funds which invest only in government securities and owing to zero credit risk, are safe investment funds.

● Ultra-short-term debt funds wherein the maturity period ranges between three to six months and provides comparatively higher returns.

● Low duration debt funds whose maturity period ranges between six and 12 months, these funds invest in debt and money market instruments.

● Money market funds that invest in money market instruments and have a redemption period of up to one year.

● Bank fixed deposits that can be renewed on maturity and their tenure can range from 14 days to 10 years. Also, liquidity can be a concern here as some banks don’t allow premature withdrawals.

● Company fixed deposits can have a tenure of more than one year

● Post office time deposits have tenures ranging from one to five years and similarly Recurring deposits can open an RD for a duration as low as six months. Sweep-in-Fixed Deposits as against low returns on savings accounts, these offer comparatively higher returns, with a minimum tenure of around 12 months.

On the other hand, long-term investments are investments that can offer high returns after several years, typically five years or more – involving more market risks.

Be it via stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, etc. Investments in stocks earn quite high returns if patience is kept high (Of course, this cannot be guaranteed but you should assess your risk-taking capacity before thinking of investing in stocks).

Having a deeper understanding of the market movements so that the investor makes wiser financial decisions and when to sell the stocks, investing in stocks and securities requires a trusted financial partner, who can provide hassle-free features to open an online Demat and Trading Account.

Another long-term investment avenue for receiving higher returns is Equity Mutual Funds where the investor gets to pick from small, mid-cap, and large-cap equity mutual funds for the long term to achieve greater financial goals.

Ultimately, the short-term investment gives levy to the investor to achieve their financial goals within a short span and with lower risk (depending on which asset you pick), if the investor has a greater risk appetite, and wants higher returns, they can select a long-term investment avenue.

To further simplify, if the investor wants to preserve their capital and is happy with moderate returns then they may choose short-term investments but, with the expectation of a higher return, the investor may invest in long-term investment avenues.

(The author is Senior Vice President, at mastertrust)

(Disclaimer: Recommendations, suggestions, views and opinions given by the experts are their own. These do not represent the views of Economic Times)

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Hong Kong Investment Bank’s 2,325% Surge Baffles Local Investors – BNN



(Bloomberg) — Another little-known Hong Kong-based financial services firm is mystifying investors with a dramatic price surge following its US listing. 

Magic Empire Global Ltd., which provides underwriting and advisory services and has helped just one company go public since 2020, surged 2,325% in its debut session Friday in New York to a market capitalization larger than football club Manchester United Plc. Magic Empire is the seventh firm this year from Hong Kong or China to experience similarly surprising moves. 

“This price level has clearly shown it is not sustainable,” said Ken Shih, head of wealth management in Greater China at Saxo Capital Markets HK Ltd., adding that without knowing who is doing the buying, it is hard to be definitive. “At this point, downside risk for investors clearly outweighs upside.”  

Last week, Hong Kong financial services provider AMTD Digital Inc. briefly became bigger than Goldman Sachs Group Inc. after a 14,000% gain in less than a month. The moves are particularly notable at a time of otherwise muted IPO activity and with Chinese companies Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Inc. threatened with delisting if they fail to comply with American auditing standards.

Magic Empire reported revenue of $2.2 million in 2021, a 17% drop from a year earlier. The company’s operating entity, Giraffe Capital Ltd., completed just one IPO in 2020 and none last year “due to COVID-19 and volatile outlook of the Hong Kong capital market,” according to the prospectus. Friday’s price surge brought Magic Empire’s market capitalization to $1.9 billion.

“The wild swings are likely due to the concentrated ownership, which certainly raises red flags,” said Kakei Lam, fund investment officer at Metaverse Securities Ltd. “I don’t see a resemblance to the meme-stock mania, given the thin trading volume.”

Magic Empire’s chairman Gilbert Chan Wai-ho and chief executive officer Johnson Chen Sze-hon co-lead Giraffe Capital, which obtained a license to provide corporate finance services in 2017. The firm mostly works on IPOs on GEM, the small-cap exchange, and often engages other small local brokerages as underwriters, including KOALA Securities Ltd., and Yellow River Securities Ltd. Chan and Chen own most of Magic Empire, with a combined stake of about 63%. The firm had just nine employees as of December 2021, according to its prospectus.

Hong Kong’s Scandal-Plagued Small-Cap Exchange Left for Dead

About half of the companies Giraffe Capital has taken public jumped on the first day, some by as much as 125%. Seven are now trading 30% to 92% lower than IPO price and another has been delisted.

Magic Empire didn’t respond to an email request for comment and calls to the phone number listed on its website weren’t answered.

In the first half of this year, fundraising in the Hong Kong IPO market dropped 92%. With the tiny companies that make up their customer base under close regulatory watch, small- and mid-sized financial advisory firms like Giraffe Capital have had a particularly tough time.

In 2017 and 2021, the Securities and Futures Commission and the Hong Kong stock exchange issued two rounds of warnings about so-called ramp-and-dump schemes tied to small-cap IPOs. These schemes manipulate very thin trading volume to inflate prices, luring unwary investors before shares collapse. 

The SFC declined to comment for this article, but has previously identified four typical features of problematic IPOs: 

  • Market capitalization barely meets the minimum threshold
  • Price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio is very high given the firm’s fundamentals and the valuations of its peers
  • Underwriting commissions or other listing expenses are unusually high
  • Shareholding is highly concentrated in a limited number of shareholders

Magic Empire’s relatively modest revenue means it qualifies as an “emerging growth company” under American legislation, according to its prospectus. These firms enjoy reduced reporting requirements compared to larger US-listed public companies, with only two years of audited financial statements required and disclosure obligations regarding executive compensation pared back. 

(Updates with Kakei Lam’s comments.)

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.

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