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Exchanges, despite posing risks of exit scams and hacks, are still the most popular choice for institutional investors when it comes to storing their funds, according to new research published by crypto exchange Binance.
Binance Research—the research arm of the exchange—found that 92.1 percent of respondents held funds in exchanges; 32.9 percent in cold wallets; 18.4 percent in hot wallets; and 2.6 percent in custody services.
Binance Research surveyed 76 firms, funds, and institutions, all of whom had allocated over $100,000 to crypto assets. Some surveyed had put more than $25 million into crypto.
The high figure might come as a surprise, when the Twitterverse is flooded with the oft-repeated advice to take funds off of crypto exchanges whenever possible. That concern did hit home to some respondents, however, with 48.3 percent worried about platform-specific failures, like hacks.
Kadan Stadelmann, CTO of Komodo, told Decrypt this week that “the centralized exchange model’s biggest problem lies in the immense trust that you have to accept as a user.” An incompetent exchange, said Stadelmann, might incorrectly handle funds, security, and infrastructure.
You don’t have to look far to find evidence to back up Stadelmann’s point: just this month, the Canadian crypto exchange, Einstein Exchange, collapsed, despite owing an alleged $12 million in customer funds. And Russia’s Federal Security Service, the FSB, has been linked to the loss of $450 million in customer funds for the now-defunct WEX cryptocurrency exchange. Around $40 million was stolen from Binance itself back in May.
So what’s scaring investors?
The report found that investors were not discouraged from using the stablecoin, Tether, despite over 43.3 percent citing the coin’s ongoing legal issues amongst the top five risks. Some 40 percent of investors cited Tether as their stablecoin of choice. Binance’s report said it was thanks to the coin’s liquidity and sizeable market capitalization that made it so popular among investors.
When it came to Facebook-led Libra or digital currencies of central banks, like China’s CBDC, institutional investors didn’t seem too concerned. Just 5 percent of respondents considered Libra and central bank-minted currencies major threats. In fact, 19.7 percent of respondents cited such coins as one of the largest growth drivers.
Such an attitude is in stark contrast to positions held by top regulators and government officials. A report last month by the G7 nations warned that stablecoin networks, like Libra, are a serious threat to central banks’ authority to determine monetary policy.
Though governments are more concerned about threats to their own monetary systems than investors, the report concluded that they still wielded an enormous amount of regulatory power over the industry, which investors pay close attention to. Some 44.3 percent of respondents, said that change in global and local regulations was the largest growth driver for investing.