Q4 2018 Highlights2

  • Total Investment into Grayscale Products in Q4 2018: $30.1 million
  • Average Weekly Investment – All Products: $2.3 million
  • Average Weekly Investment – Grayscale Bitcoin Trust: $2.0 million
  • Average Weekly Investment – “Non-Bitcoin” Investment Products3: $0.3 million
total AUM

2018 Highlights4

  • Total Investment into Grayscale Products in 2018: $359.5 million
  • Average Weekly Investment – All Products: $6.9 million
  • Average Weekly Investment – Grayscale Bitcoin Trust: $4.7 million
  • Average Weekly Investment – “Non-Bitcoin” Investment Products5: $2.3 million
  • Majority of investment (66%) has come from institutional investors.

The Takeaway

 

Below average quarter, but strong year. Despite a deceleration of investment quarter-over-quarter, new inflows across Grayscale products reached $30.1 million in Q4, making 2018 a record year for our business. The full year inflows of $359.5 million were nearly 3X those recorded during the 2017 digital asset bull market and nearly 2X the inflows from the previous four years combined (2014-2017), a clear sign that long-term investors remain bullish independent of the recent price action.

Return of the Bitcoin maximalist. Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (f/k/a Bitcoin Investment Trust) stood out this quarter, attracting the most capital within the Grayscale family of products despite further price declines in the digital asset market. In the fourth quarter, 88% of inflows were into Grayscale Bitcoin Trust, while 12% were into products tied to other digital assets.

“Trailing 12-month inflows as a % of Grayscale total AUM” reached the highest level since Q2 2015. New investment dollars deployed into the Grayscale products in 2018 represent approximately 44% of the value of current assets under management (“AUM”). We view high inflows relative to asset prices as a potential fundamental sign of perceived value and future price strength.

 

A Grayscale Perspective

 

As outlined in our prior quarterly investment reports, the digital asset market remains in one of the largest price drawdowns (i.e., peak-to-trough declines) since the inception of Bitcoin. While Figure 1 shows strong growth in Grayscale’s AUM dating back to September 2013, this past year is evidence that – like other investors – we are not immune to the volatility of the asset class.

FIGURE 1: GRAYSCALE AUM SINCE INCEPTION6

AUM growth

However, for investors who have been around for the past several years, this isn’t a new phenomenon. Bitcoin endured an 85% selloff between December 2013 and January 2015, before fully recovering to its previous high of roughly $1,150 and accelerating to a new all-time high of more than $19,000 in December 2017. Today, investors find themselves in the middle of a similar drawdown and are faced with the question of what to do next.

FIGURE 2: GRAYSCALE AUM DRAWDOWNS SINCE INCEPTION (% CUMULATIVE LN)7

bitcoin drawdowns cumulative chart

In Figure 3, we’re introducing a new analytic that shows the trailing 12-month dollar inflows to the Grayscale family of investment products as a percentage of total AUM. For context, this metric may serve as a proxy for broad-based investment activity occurring across the digital asset ecosystem, which could have important implications for future price action. In fact, many investors view large capital inflows relative to asset prices as a fundamental sign of perceived value and potential future price momentum.

In December, this metric reached its highest level since the second quarter of 2015 – the bottom of the last bear market. While past performance is not an indicator of future returns, large increases in dollar inflows relative to asset prices during late-stage drawdowns have historically preceded bull markets. Though the number of observations is limited and the effects may not be immediate, it will be interesting to see how the next cycle plays out to gauge the strength and validity of this signal.

FIGURE 3: GRAYSCALE TRAILING 12-MONTH INFLOWS AS % OF TOTAL AUM SINCE INCEPTION8

grayscale investments chart 2018

Investment Activity through the Grayscale Lens

 

Despite a deceleration of investment into digital assets in the fourth quarter, Grayscale raised $30.1 million over the last three months, bringing our full year 2018 inflows to $359.5 million. This marks the strongest calendar year inflows since the inception of our business. The full year inflows of $359.5 million were nearly 3X those recorded during the 2017 digital asset bull market and nearly 2X the inflows from previous four years combined (2014-2017), demonstrating that long-term investors remain bullish independent of the recent price action.

FIGURE 4: GRAYSCALE CUMULATIVE INFLOWS BY PRODUCT – Q4 2018

digital currency investments report q4 2018

FIGURE 5: GRAYSCALE CUMULATIVE INFLOWS BY PRODUCT – 2018

December 31, 2017 through December 31, 2018

As shown in Figure 6, our average weekly investment across all products this quarter was $2.3 million.

FIGURE 6: GRAYSCALE WEEKLY INFLOWS BY PRODUCT – Q4 2018

September 30, 2018 through December 31, 2018

While our average weekly investment across all products for 2018 was $6.9 million.

FIGURE 7: GRAYSCALE WEEKLY INFLOWS BY PRODUCT – 2018

December 31, 2017 through December 31, 2018

Consistent with what we observed over the course of the full year, the majority of new investments made this quarter continued to flow into Grayscale Bitcoin Trust.

FIGURE 8: GRAYSCALE BITCOIN TRUST CUMULATIVE INFLOWS – Q4 2018

September 30, 2018 through December 31, 2018

FIGURE 9: GRAYSCALE BITCOIN TRUST CUMULATIVE INFLOWS – 2018

December 31, 2017 through December 31, 2018

As investments into non-Bitcoin products slowed significantly this quarter relative to what we saw earlier in the year.

FIGURE 10: GRAYSCALE NON-BITCOIN CUMULATIVE INFLOWS – Q4 2018

December 31, 2017 through December 31, 2018

non-bitcoin totals

FIGURE 11: GRAYSCALE NON-BITCOIN CUMULATIVE INFLOWS – 2018

December 31, 2017 through December 31, 2018

non-bitcoin totals

In the fourth quarter, 88% of inflows were into Grayscale Bitcoin Trust, while 12% were into non-Bitcoin products.

FIGURE 12: PRODUCT TYPE AS % OF TOTAL ASSETS RAISED – Q4 2018

September 30, 2018 through December 31, 2018

bitcoin weekly average

In fact, Grayscale Bitcoin Trust’s share of new inflows was even higher than what we saw over the course of the full year. In 2018, 67% of inflows were into Grayscale Bitcoin Trust and 33% were into non-Bitcoin products.

FIGURE 13: PRODUCT TYPE AS % OF TOTAL ASSETS RAISED – 2018

December 31, 2017 through December 31, 2018

total assets breakdown bitcoin vs non-bitcoin

In Q4, the average weekly inflow into Grayscale Bitcoin Trust was $2.0 million, bringing the full year figure to $4.7 million.

FIGURE 14: GRAYSCALE BITCOIN TRUST WEEKLY INFLOWS – Q4 2018

September 30, 2018 through December 31, 2018

bitcoin weekly average

FIGURE 15: GRAYSCALE BITCOIN TRUST WEEKLY INFLOWS – 2018

December 31, 2017 through December 31, 2018

bitcoin weekly average

Furthermore, the average weekly inflow into non-Bitcoin products was $0.3 million, bringing the 2018 average to $2.3 million.

FIGURE 16: GRAYSCALE NON-BITCOIN TRUST WEEKLY INFLOWS – Q4 2018

September 30, 2018 through December 31, 2018

non-bitcoin weekly average

FIGURE 17: GRAYSCALE NON-BITCOIN TRUST WEEKLY INFLOWS – 2018

December 31, 2017 through December 31, 2018

invest in cryptocurrencies

Despite a slowdown in investment across products in the fourth quarter, we continue to see evidence that digital assets are here to stay as a new asset class. Moreover, we believe in a future where multiple digital assets survive, thrive, and complement one another in the digital economy, allowing them to play a diversifying role within investor portfolios.

Investor Profiles

 

Looking at the profiles of our investors, we saw that retirement accounts comprised a higher percentage of total demand for Grayscale products in the fourth quarter (40%), while institutional investors continued to be the dominant source of inflows for 2018 (66%). These datapoints reinforce two important trends that we’re observing. First, the average investor at this stage of the bear market is patient with a multi-year investment horizon (i.e., investing for retirement). Second, institutional investors are building core strategic positions in digital assets over time and have largely viewed the 2018 drawdown as an attractive entry point. While the dollar amounts invested declined in Q4, institutional investors share of the ‘new investment pie’ was roughly consistent throughout the year.

FIGURE 18: GRAYSCALE INVESTOR PROFILE BY TYPE

Q4 vs. 2018

crypto investments

Additionally, U.S. investors continued to be dominant source of new investment, accounting for practically all inflows in the fourth quarter.

FIGURE 19: GRAYSCALE INVESTOR PROFILE BY GEOGRAPHY

Q4 vs. 2018

digital currency investments US vs offshore

Conclusion

 

Grayscale is the world’s largest digital currency asset manager, with a proven track record and unrivaled experience. We give investors the tools to make informed investing decisions in a burgeoning asset class. As part of Digital Currency Group, Grayscale accesses the world’s biggest network of digital currency intelligence to build better investment products, including the publicly quoted Grayscale Bitcoin Trust™ (OTCQX: GBTC), Grayscale Ethereum Classic Trust™ (OTCQX: ETCG), and our flagship diversified product, Grayscale Digital Large Cap Fund™. We have removed the barrier to entry so that institutions and investors can benefit from exposure to digital currencies.

Through our experience working with prominent investors around the world, we have compiled a proprietary dataset of digital asset investment activity. On a quarterly basis we will update and share this data with the market for two major reasons:

  1. We believe it provides a unique perspective on digital asset investment activity that is distinct from what may be commonly understood.
  2. It may be useful to both value and momentum investors as they seek to identify dislocations between market prices and capital flows.

As our dataset grows, we will create new analytics that can be used to identify trends in the digital asset investment landscape through the Grayscale lens.

Notes

1 As of December, 31, 2018
2 For the period from September 30, 2018 through December 31, 2018.
3 “Non-Bitcoin” Products include Grayscale Bitcoin Cash Trust, Grayscale Ethereum Trust, Grayscale Ethereum Classic Trust, Grayscale Horizen Trust, Grayscale Litecoin Trust, Grayscale Stellar Lumens Trust, Grayscale XRP Trust, Grayscale Zcash Trust , and Grayscale Digital Large Cap Fund.
4 For the period from December 31, 2017 through December 31, 2018.
5 See footnote 2.
6 Source: Grayscale. PAST PERFORMANCE IS NOT INDICATIVE OF FUTURE RETURNS.
7 Source: Grayscale. PAST PERFORMANCE IS NOT INDICATIVE OF FUTURE RETURNS.
8 Source: Grayscale. PAST PERFORMANCE IS NOT INDICATIVE OF FUTURE RETURNS.

About Grayscale Investments

Grayscale Investments, LLC “Grayscale”) is the world’s largest digital currency asset manager, with a proven track record and unrivaled experience. We give investors the tools to make informed investing decisions in a burgeoning asset class. As part of Digital Currency Group, Grayscale accesses the world’s biggest network of digital currency intelligence to build better investment products. We have removed the barrier to entry so that institutions and investors can benefit from exposure to digital currencies. Now, forward-thinking investors can embrace a digital future within an institutional grade investment.
Grayscale is headquartered in New York City. For more information on Grayscale, please visit, please visit www.grayscale.co or follow us on Twitter @GrayscaleInvest.

Important Disclosures & Other Information

©Grayscale Investments, LLC. All content is original and has been researched and produced by Grayscale Investments, LLC (“Grayscale”) unless otherwise stated herein. No part of this content may be reproduced in any form, or referred to in any other publication, without the express consent of Grayscale.
This report is for informational purposes only and does not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to sell or buy any security in any jurisdiction where such an offer or solicitation would be illegal. There is not enough information contained in this report to make an investment decision and any information contained herein should not be used as a basis for this purpose. This report does not constitute a recommendation or take into account the particular investment objectives, financial situations, or needs of investors. Investors are not to construe the contents of this report as legal, tax or investment advice, and should consult their own advisors concerning an investment in digital assets. The price and value of assets referred to in this research and the income from them may fluctuate. Past performance is not indicative of the future performance of any assets referred to herein. Fluctuations in exchange rates could have adverse effects on the value or price of, or income derived from, certain investments.
Investors should be aware that Grayscale is the sponsor of Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (BTC), Grayscale Bitcoin Cash Trust (BCH), Grayscale Ethereum Trust (ETH), Grayscale Ethereum Classic Trust (ETC), Grayscale Litecoin Trust (LTC), Grayscale Horizen Trust (ZEN), Grayscale Stellar Lumens Trust (XLM), Grayscale XRP Trust (XRP) and Grayscale Zcash Trust (ZEC) (each, a “Trust”) and the manager of Grayscale Digital Large Cap Fund LLC (the “Fund”). The Trusts and the Fund are collectively referred to herein as the “Products”. Any Product currently offering Share creations is referred to herein as an “Offered Product”. Information provided about an Offered Product is not intended to be, nor should it be construed or used as investment, tax or legal advice, and prospective investors should consult their own advisors concerning an investment in such Offered Product. This report does not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy interests in any of the Products. Any offer or solicitation of an investment in a Product may be made only by delivery of such Product’s confidential offering documents (the “Offering Documents”) to qualified accredited investors (as defined under Rule 501(a) of Regulation D of the U.S. Securities Act of 1933, as amended), which contain material information not contained herein and which supersede the information provided herein in its entirety.
The Products are private investment vehicles. Shares of Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (BTC), which are only offered on a periodic basis, are publicly quoted under the symbol: GBTC. The Products are not subject to the same regulatory requirements as exchange traded funds or mutual funds, including the requirement to provide certain periodic and standardized pricing and valuation information to investors. The Products are not registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”), any state securities laws, or the U.S. Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended. There are substantial risks in investing in one or more Products. Any interests in each Product described herein have not been recommended by any U.S. federal or state, or non-U.S., securities commission or regulatory authority, including the SEC. Furthermore, the foregoing authorities have not confirmed the accuracy or determined the adequacy of this document. Any representation to the contrary is a criminal offense.
Certain of the statements contained herein may be statements of future expectations and other forward-looking statements that are based on Grayscale’s views and assumptions and involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results, performance or events to differ materially from those expressed or implied in such statements. In addition to statements that are forward-looking by reason of context, the words “may, will, should, could, can, expects, plans, intends, anticipates, believes, estimates, predicts, potential, projected, or continue” and similar expressions identify forward-looking statements. Grayscale assumes no obligation to update any forward-looking statements contained herein and you should not place undue reliance on such statements, which speak only as of the date hereof. Although Grayscale has taken reasonable care to ensure that the information contained herein is accurate, no representation or warranty (including liability towards third parties), expressed or implied, is made by Grayscale as to its accuracy, reliability or completeness. You should not make any investment decisions based on these estimates and forward-looking statements.
Certain Risk Factors
Each Product is a private, unregistered investment vehicle and not subject to the same regulatory requirements as exchange traded funds or mutual funds, including the requirement to provide certain periodic and standardized pricing and valuation information to investors. There are substantial risks in investing in a Product or in digital assets directly, including but not limited to:
  • PRICE VOLATILITY
    Digital assets have historically experienced significant intraday and long-term price swings. In addition, none of the Products currently operates a redemption program and may halt creations from time to time or, in the case of Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (BTC), periodically. There can be no assurance that the value of the common units of fractional undivided beneficial interest (“Shares”) of any Product will approximate the value of the digital assets held by such Product and such Shares may trade at a substantial premium over or discount to the value of the digital assets held by such Product. At this time, none of the Products is operating a redemption program and therefore Shares are not redeemable by any Product. Subject to receipt of regulatory approval from the SEC and approval by Grayscale, in its sole discretion, any Product may in the future operate a redemption program. Because none of the Products believes that the SEC would, at this time, entertain an application for the waiver of rules needed in order to operate an ongoing redemption program, none of the Products currently has any intention of seeking regulatory approval from the SEC to operate an ongoing redemption program.
  • MARKET ADOPTION
    It is possible that digital assets generally or any digital asset in particular will never be broadly adopted by either the retail or commercial marketplace, in which case, one or more digital assets may lose most, if not all, of its value.
  • GOVERNMENT REGULATION
    The regulatory framework of digital assets remains unclear and application of existing regulations and/or future restrictions by federal and state authorities may have a significant impact on the value of digital assets.
  • SECURITY
    While each Product has implemented security measures for the safe storage of its digital assets, there have been significant incidents of digital asset theft and digital assets remains a potential target for hackers. Digital assets that are lost or stolen cannot be replaced, as transactions are irrevocable.
  • TAX TREATMENT OF VIRTUAL CURRENCY
    For U.S. federal income tax purposes, Digital Large Cap Fund will be a passive foreign investment company (a “PFIC”) and, in certain circumstances, may be a controlled foreign corporation (a “CFC”). Digital Large Cap Fund will make available a PFIC Annual Information Statement that will include information required to permit each eligible shareholder to make a “qualified electing fund” election (a “QEF Election”) with respect to Digital Large Cap Fund. Each of the other Products intends to take the position that it is a grantor trust for U.S. federal income tax purposes. Assuming that a Product is properly treated as a grantor trust, Shareholders of that Product generally will be treated as if they directly owned their respective pro rata shares of the underlying assets held in the Product, directly received their respective pro rata shares of the Product’s income and directly incurred their respective pro rata shares of the Product ’s expenses. Most state and local tax authorities follow U.S. income tax rules in this regard. Prospective investors should discuss the tax consequences of an investment in a Product with their tax advisors.
  • NO SHAREHOLDER CONTROL
    Grayscale, as sponsor of each Trust and the manager of the Fund, has total authority over the Trusts and the Fund and shareholders’ rights are extremely limited.
  • LACK OF LIQUIDITY AND TRANSFER RESTRICTIONS
    An investment in a Product will be illiquid and there will be significant restrictions on transferring interests in such Product. The Products are not registered with the SEC, any state securities laws, or the U.S. Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended, and the Shares of each Product are being offered in a private placement pursuant to Rule 506(c) under Regulation D of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”). As a result, the Shares of each Product are restricted Shares and are subject to a one-year holding period in accordance with Rule 144 under the Securities Act. In addition, none of the Products currently operates a redemption program. Because of the one-year holding period and the lack of an ongoing redemption program, Shares should not be purchased by any investor who is not willing and able to bear the risk of investment and lack of liquidity for at least one year. No assurances are given that after the one year holding period, there will be any market for the resale of Shares of any Product, or, if there is such a market, as to the price at such Shares may be sold into such a market.
  • POTENTIAL RELIANCE ON THIRD-PARTY MANAGEMENT; CONFLICTS OF INTEREST
    The Products and their sponsors or managers and advisors may rely on the trading expertise and experience of third-party sponsors, managers or advisors, the identity of which may not be fully disclosed to investors. The Products and their sponsors or managers and advisors and agents may be subject to various conflicts of interest.
  • FEES AND EXPENSES
    Each Product’s fees and expenses (which may be substantial regardless of any returns on investment) will offset each Product’s trading profits.
Additional General Disclosures
Investors must have the financial ability, sophistication/experience and willingness to bear the risks of an investment. This document is intended for those with an in-depth understanding of the high risk nature of investments in digital assets and these investments may not be suitable for you. This document may not be distributed in either excerpts or in its entirety beyond its intended audience and the Products and Grayscale will not be held responsible if this document is used or is distributed beyond its initial recipient or if it is used for any unintended purpose.
The Products and Grayscale do not: make recommendations to purchase or sell specific securities; provide investment advisory services; or conduct a general retail business. None of the Products or Grayscale, its affiliates, nor any of its directors, officers, employees or agents shall have any liability, howsoever arising, for any error or incompleteness of fact or opinion in it or lack of care in its preparation or publication, provided that this shall not exclude liability to the extent that this is impermissible under applicable securities laws.
The logos, graphics, icons, trademarks, service marks and headers for each Product and Grayscale appearing herein are service marks, trademarks (whether registered or not) and/or trade dress of Grayscale Investments, LLC. (the “Marks”). All other trademarks, company names, logos, service marks and/or trade dress mentioned, displayed, cited or otherwise indicated herein (“Third Party Marks”) are the sole property of their respective owners. The Marks or the Third Party Marks may not be copied, downloaded, displayed, used as metatags, misused, or otherwise exploited in any manner without the prior express written permission of the relevant Product and Grayscale or the owner of such Third Party Mark.
The logos, graphics, icons, trademarks, service marks and headers for each Vehicle and Grayscale appearing herein are service marks, trademarks (whether registered or not) and/or trade dress of Grayscale (the “Marks”). All other trademarks, company names, logos, service marks and/or trade dress mentioned, displayed, cited or otherwise indicated herein (“Third Party Marks”) are the sole property of their respective owners. The Marks or the Third Party Marks may not be copied, downloaded, displayed, used as metatags, misused, or otherwise exploited in any manner without the prior express written permission of the relevant Vehicle and Grayscale or the owner of such Third Party Mark.
The above summary is not a complete list of the risks and other important disclosures involved in investing in any Product or digital assets and is subject to the more complete disclosures contained in each Product’s Offering Documents, which must be reviewed carefully.
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