For Q4 2018, Grayscale reports that institutions accounted for the majority of investments — at 66 percent. As well, investors were almost exclusively based in the United States (99 percent), although full year statistics indicate a more distributed geography, with 33 percent offshore investors to 67 percent U.S.-based.
In its more detailed analysis of investor profiles, Grayscale notes that the protracted bear market has drawn clients whose perspective is long term: the high percentage of retirement accounts (40 percent) points to a multi-year investment horizon. Moreover, while dollar investments in crypto declined in Q4, Grayscale contends that institutional investors’ percentage allocation of their portfolio into the crypto sector remained roughly consistent throughout 2018.
Overall, the fund notes there has been a deceleration of new inflows into crypto products quarter-over-quarter in 2018: nonetheless, with Q4 investments at $30.1 million, Grayscale products hit a value of $359.5 million for the entire year — nearly twice the inflows of the previous four years (2014-17) combined.
Grayscale has been overseeing investments into crypto for over five years, launching a Bitcoin (BTC) Investment Trust back in September 2013 and then expanding to other single-asset funds — including Ethereum Classic (ETC), Zcash (ZEC) and Litecoin (LTC) — as well as diversified offerings, such as its Digital Large Cap Fund.
A further trend that the report identifies is the “return of the Bitcoin maximalist”: 88 percent of new inflows were into Grayscale’s flagship BTC Investment Trust, with investments into non-Bitcoin products slowing significantly. For the entire year, the BTC trust accounted for 67 percent, with 33 percent of capital invested in other crypto products.
As reported, an analysis from multinational investment bank and financial services company Morgan Stanley last fall hailed cryptocurrencies as a new institutional investment class, noting the proliferating formation of new funds targeting the sector.
Nonetheless, recent data indicates a shift in fund composition and strategy has occurred as the crypto winter continues: in 2018, the number of new crypto venture funds for the first time exceeded that of new hedge funds in the space.