“Contagion” is the most popular word in crypto after the disastrous fallout of the past year. And dominos keep falling as investors painfully realize how closely intertwined the entire cryptocurrency industry is. Hundreds of billions of dollars were incinerated.
And bitcoin mining companies have not completely avoided this. In fact, a unique type of mining business failed catastrophically, which could provide valuable lessons for future entrepreneurs. The combination of crypto lending and crypto mining was showcased in two high-profile companies: BlockFi and Celsius. Both of these companies are now bankrupt. What happened?
This article explores the histories, downfalls and lessons of both organizations.
The Crypto Lending Businesses’ Mining Interests
Even the most casual crypto observer would be familiar with the two industry-leading crypto lending businesses that went bust in 2022. What may be less widely known is that both of these companies also maintained significant bitcoin mining units. BlockFi and Celsius were not only the go-to names for centralized crypto lending, they also heavily invested in bitcoin mining. And when both companies sank, so did their mining teams.
BlockFi announced its new mining operations in May 2021 in the form of a partnership with Blockstream and its long-standing mining unit. Exactly how much hash rate BlockFi is managing through Blockstream has not been disclosed, and the current status of BlockFi’s hash rate at Blockstream facilities is also not fully known. But the lending company said it viewed mining as a complement to its financial service offerings.
Celsius also invested heavily in bitcoin mining, with $500 million spent on its mining efforts as of November 2021. In an older interview, former Celsius CEO Alex Mashinsky said the company operated 22,000 mining machines, most of which were Antminer S19 models. Like BlockFi, Mashinsky described his company’s mining efforts as a strategic complement to its lending business.
To be clear, BlockFi and Celsius were not the only companies operating at the intersection of mining and lending. Mining companies lending their coins to other institutional market participants (e.g., trading firms) is not uncommon. And it’s not unreasonable to assume other, smaller lending firms also had exposure to the mining industry. But BlockFi and Celsius were unparalleled in the combined scale of both their lending and mining operations. Both companies were also bankrupted as a direct result of the fallout from the stunning collapse of FTX.
Tale Of Two Bankruptcies
Both companies — Celsius and BlockFi — have now filed for bankruptcy.
In June 2022, Celsius announced it was pausing all withdrawals. The next month, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Machinsky abruptly resigned in the middle of the bankruptcy proceedings but not before reportedly withdrawing $10 million.
The bankruptcy of Celsius Mining came just months after it announced its plans to go public. But the company planned to continue mining throughout its bankruptcy proceedings, and defended these plans vigorously. Celsius said its mining operations were key to the company’s restructuring efforts. But mining isn’t cheap. In the first two weeks of mining through bankruptcy, Celsius Mining burned $40 million, according to reporting by The Wall Street Journal. At the time, Celsius Mining told the court it expected the mining operations to become profitable by January 2023.
Shortly after Thanksgiving, BlockFi also filed for bankruptcy. Its bitcoin mining operations have not played as prominent a role in the proceedings as Celsius’ has. No reports found for this article indicate that Blockstream’s agreement with BlockFi has been terminated or otherwise interrupted.
But the BlockFi-hosted mining operations were not its only mining-related concerns. In addition to hashing for itself, the company also originated loans to other mining entities. BlockFi’s corporate account addressed this matter on Twitter one month before filing for bankruptcy. Some reports indicate that BlockFi could have suffered up to $80 million in losses from its exposure to Core Scientific, for example.
Why Mine And Lend?
Why a lending company wants to mine bitcoin at all is a question worth answering. The precise answers to this vary, but here’s a simple explanation of one potential motivation: By essentially acting as “crypto savings banks” and lending bitcoin (and other cryptocurrencies) to various retail and institutional counterparties, institutions like BlockFi, for example, had minimal exposure at best to bitcoin’s parabolic upside. Its borrower clients, on the other hand, had full exposure to the market’s volatility. In theory, spinning up a mining operation could give lenders more material risk exposure with larger potential profits.
But the lending business — especially given how some of the crypto financial institutions manage their books — carries enough counterparty risk and operational complexity by itself, one would think. The mining business is notoriously ruthless and complicated, which places new entrants at massive disadvantages even in the best market conditions. Managing a mining unit in addition to a core lending service is beyond doubly tough compared to running only one or the other business, since business complexity scales exponentially, not linearly. Although successfully running a joint lending/mining business is not impossible, it certainly is not for an inexperienced or risk averse founder.
In short, after a decade of institutionalized mining growth, there are good reasons why most mining companies are only mining companies — not hybrid businesses with other core offerings outside of mining. Sure, some miners play the role of lender in limited cases, as previously mentioned. But their core business is mining. Doing anything else is often too much to manage.
Don’t Rinse And Repeat
2022 was a brutal year for all of “crypto,” but especially for miners and lenders. Both high-profile companies that combined the two businesses ended in bankruptcy. Unfortunately, the “crypto” industry has a goldfish-like memory and is more likely to repeat rather than avoid these mistakes. But, hopefully, the future includes severe adjustments in accepted practices for lenders and also strong recovery from well-managed, bear-market-hardened mining companies. If not, the pain and suffering of the 2022 bear market was for nothing.
This is a guest post by Zack Voell. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.
FTX Attorneys To Drag SBF’s Parents And Brother In Questioning About Their Personal Wealth
The tragedy of FTX appears to be becoming more personal, as the bankrupt exchange’s legal counsels are now seeking to drag the founder’s family members and grill them about how they established their affluence.
In a court filing, FTX attorneys requested that Sam Bankman-Fried’s parents, Joseph Bankman and Barbara Fried, testify under oath and produce financial papers regarding their personal fortune as part of the company’s effort to reclaim funds that may be used to repay creditors.
Gabriel, the brother of former FTX CEO Bankman-Fried, will also be questioned in court over any financial benefits he may have gotten from the company.
SBF, although being collaborative to the point of spending the rest of his life in prison, has neglected to provide federal prosecutors with all the necessary information regarding the diverted money, resulting in the current situation.
Lawyers Seek Answer From SBF Family If They Received Money From FTX
In light of claims that FTX shifted billions of dollars in investor cash to prop up his Alameda Research trading unit, federal authorities have accused him with fraud. SBF entered a not-guilty plea.
According to reports, other FTX executives may be subject to the same inquiry in an attempt to locate assets associated with the bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange.
Sources also have it that Bankman-Fried’s mother provided tax advice and recruitment assistance to FTX personnel.
FTX former CEO, Sam Bankman-Fried. Image: CNA.
Reportedly, his father served as a tax counsel to employees of the company and provided recommendations for the appointment of the company’s legal team.
Supposedly, Gabriel established a lobbying group and housed its operations in a mansion worth several million dollars not far from the U.S. Capitol.
It has been stated that his mother and brother are not helping with the investigation that is currently taking place into FTX.
Reuters reported in November that Bankman-Fried’s parents were signatories on a $16.4 million residence in the Bahamas, which was designated in property records as a “holiday home.”
FTX Owes Thousands Of Creditors Money
SBF faces eight criminal counts, including violations of campaign finance regulations and wire fraud. Since his extradition from the Bahamas to the United States, he has been under house arrest at his parents’ home. His trial is scheduled to commence in October.
After the collapse of the once-powerful cryptocurrency exchange in November, newly released bankruptcy records revealed thousands of creditors to whom FTX owes funds.
Wall Street stalwarts like JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs were included on the 116-page list of creditors, which also included firms, charities, people, and other institutions.
Crypto total market cap at $996 billion on the daily chart | Chart: TradingView.com
Meanwhile, FTX has opposed to a request from the U.S. Department of Justice for an independent inquiry into the company’s collapse, claiming that it is already conducting a comprehensive review that includes family members of SBF.
FTT, the native token of the FTX cryptocurrency exchange, had risen by 185% over the last 30 days.
At the time of writing, the altcoin was trading for $1,940, a decrease of approximately 22% from its previous price of $2,4.00.
-Featured image: Novel Suspects
Kraken Appoints CJ Rinaldi as Chief Compliance Officer
New CCO brings three decades of financial services experience
SAN FRANCISCO – Jan. 24, 2023 – Kraken, one of the world’s largest and most-trusted crypto platforms, today announced the appointment of CJ Rinaldi as Chief Compliance Officer. CJ’s decades of experience, both in traditional and decentralized finance, will further strengthen Kraken’s compliance program amid a fast-evolving regulatory landscape.
“To accelerate the adoption of cryptocurrencies around the world, Kraken must continue to navigate an increasingly complex regulatory landscape,” said Kraken’s incoming CEO David Ripley. “CJ’s impressive international career in both the private and public sectors positions us for continued success in meeting global compliance needs.”
CJ was previously Chief Compliance Officer at Blockchain.com, where he was tasked with building out global compliance frameworks and mitigating compliance risk for the firm. Prior to that, CJ had several roles at Deutsche Bank, including Chief Compliance Officer for its swap dealer and US broker dealer. He also served as Head of Business Line Anti-Financial Crimes Compliance supporting its investment bank, where he led a global team tasked with mitigating financial crime risk, implementing procedures and controls through effective and efficient operational solutions.
“Kraken’s commitment to security and transparency while building world class products and services makes it the gold standard in an industry that’s shaping the future of finance. It is trusted players like Kraken that will help ensure the crypto ecosystem operates within all regulatory frameworks” says Rinaldi. “I am excited to grow Kraken’s data-driven approach to compliance, ensuring the protection of both the company and its clients.”
Prior to Deutsche Bank, CJ worked at UBS Investment Bank in multiple roles, including as Global Head of Client Infrastructure. He also served as Senior Counsel in the Enforcement Division of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
For more information, please visit kraken.com or reach out to [email protected].
Kraken is one of the world’s longest-standing digital asset platforms. Globally, Kraken clients trade more than 200 digital assets and 8 different national currencies, including GBP, EUR, USD, CAD, JPY, CHF, AUD and AED.
Kraken was founded in 2011 and was one of the first exchanges to offer spot trading with margin, parachain auctions, staking, regulated derivatives and index services. In 2022, it launched a custodial NFT marketplace. Kraken is trusted by over 9 million traders and institutions around the world and offers professional, round-the-clock online support. Kraken was the first company to have ever conducted a Proof of Reserves audit and has since committed to undergoing Proof of Reserves on a regular basis.
Kraken is backed by investors including Tribe Capital, SkyBridge, Hummingbird Ventures, Blockchain Capital, Digital Currency Group, among others.
Kraken markets can be monitored and traded through the Kraken iOS and Android apps, and through the Cryptowatch iOS, Android and Desktop apps.
These materials are for general information purposes only and are not investment advice or a recommendation or solicitation to buy, sell or hold any cryptoasset or to engage in any specific trading strategy. Some crypto products and markets are unregulated, and you may not be protected by government compensation and/or regulatory protection schemes. The unpredictable nature of the cryptoasset markets can lead to loss of funds. Tax may be payable on any return and/or on any increase in the value of your cryptoassets and you should seek independent advice on your taxation position. For more information, please see our Terms of Service.
OANDA opens up the crypto market for traders in Singapore
OANDA, a leading online trading platform, has been named Singapore’s #1 crypto broker for client satisfaction, according to a recent survey conducted by a leading financial news outlet. This marks the second consecutive year OANDA has received this honor, solidifying its position as the go-to choice for crypto traders in Singapore.
The crypto industry is believed to have the potential to revolutionize financial transactions by using decentralized currencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum. Blockchain technology has the potential to disrupt various industries. The crypto industry is still in its early stages but has significant potential for growth and innovation. OANDA is at the forefront of this industry in Singapore.
The survey, which evaluated the top crypto brokers in Singapore based on various factors such as customer service, platform usability, and trading options, found that OANDA stood out for its commitment to providing a top-notch trading experience for its clients. This is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the OANDA team, who strive to constantly improve the platform and add new features to meet the evolving needs of its clients.
In response to the growing demand for crypto trading options, OANDA has opened up its crypto market to traders, allowing them to buy and sell Ethereum and other popular cryptocurrencies. The platform offers a user-friendly interface and advanced tools to help traders make informed decisions and 24/7 customer support.
Why Choose OANDA?
One of the key features of the OANDA crypto market is its Ethereum trade offering. Ethereum is the second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization and is widely considered one of the most promising digital assets in the crypto space. By offering Ethereum trade options, OANDA allows traders to access this growing market and potentially benefit from its upward trend.
In addition to Ethereum, OANDA’s crypto market also offers trading options for other popular cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Ripple. This makes it a one-stop shop for crypto enthusiasts, as they can access a wide range of digital assets all in one place.
“We are thrilled to be recognized as Singapore’s #1 crypto broker for client satisfaction,” said Phil Waters, CEO of OANDA Asia Pacific. “We understand the importance of providing our clients with the best possible trading experience, and we are constantly working to improve our platform and add new features. Our goal is to empower traders of all levels to participate in the crypto market with confidence.”
One of the ways OANDA empowers its clients is through its educational resources. The platform offers a variety of educational materials, such as webinars, e-books, and articles, designed to help traders of all experience levels better understand the crypto market and how to trade successfully.
Furthermore, OANDA’s customer support team is available 24/7 to assist clients with any questions or concerns. This ensures that traders can access the help they need anytime, which is especially important in the fast-paced world of crypto trading.
OANDA Prioritizes Security Above All Else
Another important aspect of OANDA’s platform is its security. The platform utilizes state-of-the-art encryption technology to protect client information and assets. Additionally, OANDA’s servers are located in secure, geographically-dispersed data centers to ensure that client assets are always accessible.
Prospective investors can take advantage of OANDA’s Ethereum trade, among others, to scale their investments. The platform also offers trading options for other cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Ripple, making it a one-stop shop for crypto enthusiasts.
With the growing popularity of Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies, the team believes it’s important to provide traders with access to a wide range of assets. Their goal is to be the go-to choice for crypto traders in Singapore and beyond.
In conclusion, OANDA has proven to be a trusted and reliable choice for crypto traders in Singapore. With its user-friendly platform, advanced tools, and wide range of digital assets, OANDA is well-positioned to meet the evolving needs of its clients. Its commitment to customer satisfaction, as well as its educational resources, 24/7 customer support, and state-of-the-art security measures, make it a top choice for traders of all levels.
For more information, visit their website at https://www.oanda.com/us-en/trading/cryptocurrencies/ and experience the OANDA difference. Their Ethereum trade offering is just the beginning, and the team looks forward to expanding their crypto market offerings in the future.
Disclaimer: This is a paid post and should not be treated as news/advice.
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