The last 12 months have been a rough time for hedge funds focused on cryptocurrency, according to a new report from the San Francisco-based Crypto Fund Research.
Roughly 70 crypto hedge funds have shut down in 2019, and the number of new hedge funds that opened up in 2019 is less than half of those that debuted in 2018.
Despite Bitcoin commanding a much higher price than it did a year ago, the cryptocurrency continued to exhibit wild price swings throughout the year, which may have contributed to a lack of institutional investment.
Bitcoin spent the first three months of the year trapped in the mid-$3,000 per coin range before recovering to $5,000 in April. The price of Bitcoin peaked this year at $13,000 in July, only to lose roughly half of its value since then, now trading for around $7,300 per coin. “The market is definitely retail driven, and will remain so for the foreseeable future,” Nic Carter—co-founder of Coin Metrics— told Bloomberg.
Institutional crypto trading platforms, such as Bakkt, have yet to come into their own. Bakkt, which is backed by the owners of the New York Stock Exchange, had a very slow start when it first launched in late September. So much so that some analysts blamed its lackluster debut for the collapse of the crypto market and Bitcoin’s sinking price.
Since then, however, Bakkt has picked up speed, trading millions in Bitcoin futures contracts and hitting an all-time high in daily volume of 4,269 BTC ($32.26 million) just weeks ago. But even that kind of volume still only represents a tiny drop in the bucket compared to the retail trading market.
What’s more, very little bitcoin has actually been physically delivered by Bakkt. Since October, the trading platform has delivered just over 30 BTC. Now, the company plans to move forward with cash-settled contracts—another sign that institutional investors may not yet be ready to jump full-on into crypto.