Marking the first official entry of a true-blue financial services incumbent into the cryptoverse, Fidelity Investments, a 72-year-old firm that manages some $7.2 trillion in assets annually, has announced the launch of Fidelity Digital Assets, a new branch whose goal is to make "digitally native assets, such as bitcoin, more accessible to investors.” It really is big news; for those gunning for a blessing for their crypto assets from the lofty reaches of Big Finance, that is. With Fidelity, investors will now be able to entrust their digital assets to Fidelity’s secure “offline” vaults, in “cold storage,” where it’ll be invulnerable, supposedly, to the grand scale hacks bitcoin et al are increasingly known for.
What brought on Fidelity’s newfound crypto lust? The long-held interest of Tom Jessop, Fidelity Digital Assets’s CEO, who invested in bitcoin as early as 2014. So it’s no surprise Fidelity’s going mainstream where others have shamelessly prevaricated; it has somebody behind it who not only understands but actually likes cryptocurrency (as much as you can "like" peer-to-peer consensus protocols. They're not ice cream.)
Sony is trying a similar tack. A “partnership” between three of its branches—Sony Corporation, Sony Music Entertainment, and Sony Global Education—has announced plans to build a “system for authenticating, sharing, and rights management of educational data,” which includes electronic textbooks, educational content, music, films, VR content, and e-books. It’s nice to see Sony cooperating with itself in service of the crypto dream.
But let’s not beat around the bush here—Sony, in its new blockchain-fuelled educational drive, is now one step away from that most dreaded of use cases: putting children on the blockchain. They shouldn’t be on a blockchain—they should be in school, studying.
Standing at the fulcrum of all this institutional hullabaloo is Steve Wozniak. The Apple co-founder, you see, is now also the co-founder of EQUI, the first startup he “actually said yes” to in twenty years. After, you know, Apple.
So what was it about EQUI that got Wozniak squealing with glee? Decentralized space travel? Distributed immortality? Edible hash functions? Not quite. EQUI, he explains with breathless excitement, is "a technology-focused venture capital fund which combines the conventional principles of investing with a blockchain ‘back end’ that allows value to be realized and then traded in the open market through the EquiToken.” Yeesh. Imagine what he said no to.
This onslaught of mainstream investment, somewhat bizarrely, comes amid the steady collapse of Tether, the so-called stablecoin that’s recently shown itself to be anything but. Now Binance, which holds 768.5 million tethers in its enormous reserves, has temporarily suspended tether withdrawals, citing “wallet maintenance” and roundly denying all rumors that it’s simply dropped the coin out of sheer, unhinged terror.
It’s a somewhat less circumspect approach than that taken by exchange OKEx, which opted to list four more stablecoins—TrueUSD, USDCoin, the Gemini Dollar, andthe Paxos Standard Token—to give its concerned customers a better range of stablecoin choice amid the stablecrash. Indeed, tether’s weekend spelunking expedition has unearthed a frightening truth—the markets have grown worryingly dependent on stablecoins and their mystical, dollar-value granting qualities. Thank God there are no other massive institutional heavyweights poised to gatecrash the crypto party. Oh wait.