Crypto is totally dead lately—if you’re only looking at the price action.
Yes, Bitcoin is down 72% from its all-time-high price in November 2021, almost one full year ago. Ethereum is down the same, 72% from its own high of $4,878. Woof.
Crypto advocates point out that it’s not just crypto, stocks have been hammered too. And they’re right: everything is down right now. But that’s cold comfort for crypto believers, who—I’ll let you in on a little crypto media trade secret—do not care to read any crypto news when crypto prices are down. ConsenSys CEO Joe Lubin put on a brave face last week when talking to me about the technological success of the Ethereum merge, but ETH is down a disheartening 21% since the event.
For a better temperature check on how crypto is doing, look at the major recent signs of mainstream adoption. In the past two months, we got a string of indications that major financial institutions and tech companies believe crypto is here to stay. You’d be excused for having missed these news stories while the global economy was collapsing all around us.
In August, BlackRock, the largest asset manager in the world, launched a spot Bitcoin private trust to give its customers exposure to the current price of Bitcoin. (As a reminder, the SEC has staunchly refused to greenlight a publicly-traded spot Bitcoin ETF, allowing only Bitcoin futures ETFs; but BlackRock can offer its own clients whatever service it wants.) BlackRock also said it’s seeing “substantial interest” in crypto from its institutional clients, and that it’s exploring stablecoins and tokenization. Wow. Bitcoin didn’t budge on that news, a sign of just how much the economy is weighing on every type of asset.
This past week brought two more big shows of faith.
Google announced it will start accepting crypto as payment for its cloud services early next year by plugging into Coinbase. As part of the deal, Coinbase Commerce will move its “data-related applications” from Amazon Web Services over to Google. So not only is this Google Cloud welcoming crypto, but also a form of tie-up between Google and Coinbase.
On the same day, 239-year-old Bank of New York Mellon launched its own Bitcoin and Ethereum custody service. The bank will hold clients’ private keys and provide accounting on their crypto portfolios. This follows BNY Mellon becoming the custodian for the cash reserves that back Circle’s USDC stablecoin in March. And last year, BNY Mellon launched a Bitcoin custody service in Ireland.
BlackRock, Google, BNY Mellon
— Barry Silbert (@BarrySilbert) October 11, 2022
All of this might look to sneering crypto-skeptics like a sad attempt at rationalization. The favored mantra of Web3 builders, “bear markets are for building,” gets so oft-repeated at times like these that it has become cliché. That doesn’t mean it’s untrue.
I first wrote about Bitcoin in 2011. I’ve witnessed the freezing crypto cycles of 2014, 2018, and now. Some of the best-known crypto companies and platforms were built during those “winters.”
Lubin says crypto is “the tail being wagged by a very sick dog” right now and that it won’t get better until the economy improves. Solana founder Anatoly Yakovenko thinks it could take 12-18 months.
Meanwhile, they’re all still building, as signs of future adoption quietly multiply.