How did Grayscale grow its AUM so fast?

When I write this, Grayscale Investments has about $9.8 billion in Assets under Management. This undoubtedly makes Grayscale one of the fasted growing asset management companies in history.

Established in 2013 by Digital Currency Group, Grayscale operates trusts that allow investors to invest in various cryptocurrencies. Trusts are open-end, which means that the number of units will change as investors move in or out of the funds.

The units in the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) and the Grayscale Etherium Trust (ETHE) are that are quoted on the OTCQX market. Both trade at a significant premium to the net asset value (NAV) per share. That in itself is intriguing, since Grayscale charges a 2% management fee on assets.

Why does the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust exist?

The Grayscale Bitcoin Trust is passive, as opposed to being an active fund. The investment policy is simply to hold Bitcoin. Passive funds are usually set up to track and index or some other benchmark. So you might ask yourself what is the point of setting having a fund that only holds one asset?

Why would somebody buy this as opposed to buying the underlying asset directly? How come that investors are willing to buy Grayscale Bitcoin Trust units at a premium to Bitcoin per unit and pay Grayscale a 2% annual fee, instead of just buying Bitcoin directly?

The answer is two-fold:

  1. Most institutional investors are simply not allowed to invest directly into Bitcoin. They have a strict mandate on what they are able to invest in. So, they can’t, even if they want to, get exposure to Bitcoin unless it is through a security, such as a trust unit. Eventually, we can expect the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust to convert into an ETF and the management fee to go down.
  2. Most investors into the Grayscale trust are not buying investing through the open market. They participate in something called an Offered Product. Accredited investors participate in the Offered Product and receive an allocation that values the trust units they receive on a NAV-basis, or Bitcoin per share. By participating in the Offered Product, they are also bound to selling restrictions and subject to significant limitations on resale and transferability.

More on Cryptocurrencies

Is the Number of Active Blockchain Wallets a Leading Indicator?

A predictive indicator of how blockchain and cryptocurrencies are progressing in disrupting the world of the conventional finance industry is the number of active cryptocurrency wallets.

What are Crypto Wallets? 

According to Wikipedia, a cryptocurrency wallet is “A cryptocurrency wallet is a device, physical medium, program or service which stores the public and/or private keys and can be used to track ownership, receive or spend cryptocurrencies. The cryptocurrency itself is not in the wallet.

Today, anyone who is interested in downloading a cryptocurrency wallet to his or her mobile phone will find an exhaustive list of wallets that allow the user to send, receive and hold cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, and Ethereum.

That crypto wallets have gotten so much attention from entrepreneuring blockchain ventures should come as no surprise. Owning the relationship with the wallet user will be immensely valuable for any provider of wallets that can attract users at scale. Hence, there is a race for domination.

How Many Crypto Wallets Are There? 

According to, there are just under 35 million active cryptocurrency wallets in use in 2019. This number has grown 5-fold over the last 3 years.

Statistic: Number of Blockchain wallet users worldwide from 1st quarter 2016 to 1st quarter 2019 | Statista

As the user base grows, cryptocurrencies are reaching more mainstream users. At 35 million users, the user base is tiny. Especially if you take into consideration that about 67% of Americans own a credit card and that there are over 1.5 billion credit cards in circulation between Visa and MasterCard.

More Thoughts on Crypto

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