Notes 8/11: Blackrock Launches Bitcoin Trust And Ethereum’s Merge

The world’s biggest asset manager is launching a private trust for Bitcoin. The Blackrock Bitcoin Private Trust will track the cryptocurrency’s price at spot exchanges and is open to the firm’s institutional clients in the United States. In a statement on its website, the asset manager said it had witnessed “substantial interest” from institutional clients interested in investing in cryptocurrency using its products.

Blackrock had earlier announced a partnership with Coinbase to enable its customers to invest in and custody crypto using its inhouse Aladdin software. It also participated in the latest investing round for Circle, issuer of the world’s second biggest stablecoin USDC.

Blackrock Pumps EWF Token

Blackrock also made an interesting mention of the Energy Web Foundation (EWF), a division of the Rocky Mountain Institute, in its statement. The foundation has a hand in many crypto-related initiatives, including the use of renewable energy for bitcoin mining and using blockchain in the carbon credit market.

Blackrock CEO Larry Fink is a proponent of stakeholder capitalism that exhorts businesses to pursue profits and social purpose. Bitcoin mining’s energy usage, which is equal to that of entire countries according to some estimates, has become a flashpoint for environmental activists.

It is still a mystery why Blackrock chose to single out EWF when there are several many firms and initiatives pursuing similar objectives. But the attention seems to have benefitted the price for EWF’s token, which jumped 25%, after the announcement.

There’s also the fact that the organization chose to begin its crypto journey with a trust for Bitcoin – a cryptocurrency that uses the energy intensive Proof of Work (PoW) consensus algorithm – and not Ethereum, a far-more energy efficient alternative if its expected merge (see below) succeeds. I suppose bitcoin’s supposed popularity as a medium for daily transactions serves as adequate social purpose for Blackrock.

Blackrock’s Importance to Bitcoin   

Of course, Blackrock’s trust is not the only such vehicle available to investors. The Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC), a quasi-fund that trades in OTC markets, has $15 billion worth of assets under management, as of this writing. It trades at significant premiums and discounts to Bitcoin and is down almost 50 percent in the last 12 months.

Then there’s the stock for business intelligence company MicroStrategy Inc. Former CEO Michael Saylor likes to market it as a bitcoin ETF due to the company’s massive bitcoin holdings in its corporate treasury.

Will Blackrock’s trust be a safer bet for investors between these two risk-laden extremes? In the absence of details, it is hard to say.

But the firm’s announcement is yet another sign of change. Coupled with moves by regulatory agencies and congressional representatives to bring crypto under their supervision, it is only a matter of time before bitcoin is institutionalized.      

Ethereum Merge Ahoy!

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? It might be the Ethereum Merge (finally!).

After a successful merge between Ethereum’s main blockchain and a test network – a ‘dress rehearsal’ of sorts – the actual merging of blockchains between Ethereum’s Mainnet and the Beacon blockchain is all set to happen in September. But the actual dates are still uncertain. According to some accounts, the Merge might occur on in phases on September 6 and 15 while other reports state that it might occur somewhere near the end of September.

While the Merge is a technical upgrade and will not result in substantial changes to user experience or Ethereum’s capabilities in the short-term, crypto traders seem to be pretty excited about it. The price for ether, Ethereum’s native cryptocurrency, has already jumped by roughly 82% in the last month in anticipation of the event. Some have conjectured that a flippening – when ether overtakes bitcoin in market capitalization – is also on the cards. The long and short of all this is that the event might be a good trading opportunity.

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