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Big traditional companies have continued to embrace crypto in a variety of ways over the past year, despite the current market downturn.
To keep you up to date on who is doing what to secure their slice of the crypto economy, we have gathered a list of 10 traditional companies that have recently taken (another) step into crypto.
Investment banking giant JPMorgan, in October this year, rolled out access to four funds from Grayscale Investments and one from Osprey Funds. Per reporting from CNBC, the roll-out went ahead as a low-profile move by the investment bank, given CEO Jamie Dimon’s earlier criticism of crypto.
However, Dimon’s harsh stance on crypto appears to have softened, with the CEO in April this year calling blockchain technology and decentralized finance (DeFi) “real, new technologies.”
Major Spanish bank Santander Group’s Brazilian subsidiary Banco Santander S.A. said in July this year that it plans to start offering crypto-related services to customers “in the coming months.”
“We recognize that it is a market that is here to stay, and it is not necessarily a reaction to competitors positioning themselves, it is simply a view that our client has demanded this type of assets, so we have to find the most correct and more educational way of doing so,” Santander Brazil CEO Mario Leão was quoted as saying at the time.
Major asset manager BlackRock in August partnered with the publicly listed crypto exchange Coinbase to enable the former’s institutional clients who also own digital assets on Coinbase to use Aladdin, the asset manager’s suite of software tools, to manage their portfolios and conduct risk analysis on investment decisions.
For now, the partnership is focused on bitcoin (BTC) only, although Joseph Chalom, Global Head of Strategic Ecosystem Partnerships at BlackRock, said that the entire digital asset space is of interest. “Our institutional clients are increasingly interested in gaining exposure to digital asset markets,” he said.
In addition to the Coinbase deal, Blackrock in August also launched its first spot bitcoin private trust. The product is available to US institutional clients and seeks to track the performance of bitcoin, the company said.
4. Schwab Asset Management
Asset manager Schwab earlier this month released its Schwab Crypto Thematic exchange-traded fund (ETF), citing customer demand as its reason for doing so, CNBC reported.
Commenting on the launch, David Botset, the company’s head of equity product and strategy, called crypto “a very speculative investment,” before adding that the firm is seeing “certain segments of Schwab investors that are seeking access to this asset category in their portfolios.”
The US fast food chain Chipotle in July this year unveiled a new interactive game called “Buy The Dip.” The game allows players to win USD 200,000 worth of free crypto, as well as promo codes for USD 0.01 guacamole and Queso Blanco until the end of the month. This was seen as a way for a traditional company to make itself more attractive in the eyes of crypto users.
Online payments company Checkout.com in June announced a stablecoin settlement solution for its customers that will initially support USD coin (USDC). Then, in August, the company said it is also exploring a new crypto payout tool that would allow workers to receive their salaries in crypto, per a report from The Block.
7. Fairfax County Retirement Systems
A USD 6.8bn pension fund from Virginia, US, has said it is looking to invest in crypto lending markets, calling the yields that can be achieved with crypto yield farming strategies “really attractive.”
Speaking with the Financial Times in August this year, Katherine Molnar, Chief Investment Officer of the Fairfax County Police Officers Retirement System, said the fact that some people have now stepped back from the crypto market amid the downturn means good opportunities exist for those that are still left.
8. Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board
Another pension plan organization that appears to be taking an interest in the crypto space is the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board, with its investment in the major crypto exchange FTX. The latest investment by Ontario’s teachers (they also invested in October last year) was unveiled by FTX in January this year, when the exchange said the pension plan board was among the participants in its latest USD 400m funding round.
German banking giant Commerzbank earlier this year applied for a “crypto custody license” from the country’s financial regulator, BaFin. If Commerzbank can secure the license, it would make it the first bank in the country to take a serious step towards the adoption of digital assets – a major development in the traditionally conservative European banking industry.
Fidelity is another major asset manager that has increasingly taken steps into crypto. And although this company is a well-known player, as it entered the space as early as 2018 when it set up Fidelity Digital Asset Services, its venture into crypto has not stopped. Notably, the company made headlines again in April this year when it decided to allow individual 401(k) pension plan clients to invest in bitcoin – as long as the employers allow it.