October 2020 Market Commentary

Paul Cappelli, Portfolio Manager

November 9, 2020

It is often said that success happens when preparation meets opportunity. When we look back on October 2020 and its impact on the bitcoin story, price may be the indicator that many point to as a signal of its success. However, those more familiar with the asset class know that preparation has been a constant over the 10+ years of bitcoin’s existence. Preparation has come in many forms: the Satoshi white paper, viable exchanges, reputable data sources and research providers, institutional custody, and investor education to name a few. It has also come in the form of sophisticated investors’ acceptance of a new asset class born out of code that lives on the internet.

Overall, it is now safe to assume that we are headed towards a new era for digital assets. In October bitcoin rose 26.32% while the Bloomberg Galaxy Crypto Index (BGCI) measuring the broader digital asset market rose 14.62%. These moves came on the heels of announcements and developments across three major themes:

  1. Corporate cash entering the market
  2. Institutional on-ramps and infrastructure
  3. Central bank participation

In what has been a consistent theme over three months, bitcoin once again saw adoption at the corporate level as a tool for balance sheet management. As mentioned in previous newsletters, MicroStrategy (NASDAQ: MSTR) has made a $425 million allocation, citing bitcoin as the best risk/return hedge against inflation. In October two more public companies announced allocations from their balance sheets for the same reason. Square (NYSE: SQ), led by long-time bitcoin proponent Jack Dorsey, made a $50 million allocation, approximately 1% of its cash reserves. In addition to Square, London Stock Exchange-listed company Mode Global Holdings (LSE: MODE) has allocated up to 10% of its cash reserves to purchase bitcoin. This is the first publicly traded company in the United Kingdom to announce an investment in the digital asset.

Perhaps the biggest announcement in October came from payments giant PayPal (NASDAQ: PYPL). Following a previous indication that the company would make bitcoin available to its 346 million users, they released an official announcement specifying plans for users to begin buying, selling, and holding digital assets on its platform. In addition to bitcoin, PayPal will also provide the option for users to access Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), and Bitcoin Cash (BCH) via their platform. This is major news that not only brings digital assets to the masses globally, but also promotes the adoption of payments using digital assets; PayPal included in its announcement that it will enable its 26 million merchants to use cryptocurrency as a funding source for digital commerce. PayPal will likely continue to grow its presence in the space by building out more user-friendly on-ramps and making interesting infrastructure moves organically and/or via acquisition.

On a subtler but still important note, Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) continue to be a major theme in the digitization of cash. As we mentioned last month, the EU made comments around the likely issuance of a digital Euro in the near term. In October the Financial Stability Board issued a high-level recommendation around the oversight of a “global stablecoin”, while the Bureau of Industry and Security published information listing several G7 countries and the potential benefits of their producing a CBDC. In 2021, look for central banks to play a major role in furthering the adoption and acceptance of digital assets.

As the value of major digital assets continues to increase and announcements around the development of the space continue to support them, remember: success does not come without preparation. Digital assets are ready.

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