Arkham intelligence has confirmed that Grayscale Bitcoin Trust is the 2nd largest BTC-holder in the world, holding more than $16B worth of the cryptocurrency.
But as the world’s largest asset managers gear up for a big push into Bitcoin Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs), can Grayscale retain its crown?
It isn’t exactly a secret that the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBT) is huge. In line with US securities law, the asset manager publishes regular financial statements that reveal that the value of its Bitcoin Trust peaked at around $30B in 2021.
But the specific details of Grayscale’s Bitcoin holdings have remained a carefully guarded secret. Citing security concerns, the firm has never disclosed the addresses of wallets it owns.
However, Arkham Intelligence, a company that specializes in deanonymizing crypto wallets, recently launched a dashboard that displays Grayscale’s cryptocurrency holdings in real-time.
At the time of writing, Arkham data shows that Grayscale is sitting on 627,779 BTC, valued at $16.16B.
In addition to its vast Bitcoin wealth, Grayscale owns 3.026M ETH worth $4.94B. It also holds LINK, MATIC and UNI in sums exceeding a million dollars each.
Uncovering Grayscale’s cryptocurrency holdings, Arkham identified that the GBT is distributed across over 1750 different addresses, each holding no more than 1000 BTC.
Grayscale’s strategy contrasts with that of the largest BTC holder identified by Arkham—Binance.
In total, the platform shows that Binance currently holds 665.776 BTC, worth $17.13B. But whereas no single Grayscale wallet holds more than 1000 Bitcoins, the richest Binance wallet is endowed with 248,597 BTC worth $6.4B.
At the moment, Grayscale structures its Bitcoin investment product as a trust rather than an ETF. However, the firm wants to convert GBT into a Bitcoin spot ETF and is currently awaiting a decision by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for permission to do so
The main difference between ETFs and investment trusts is their structure.
ETFs are open-ended, meaning that the number of shares available can increase or decrease based on demand. Investment trusts, on the other hand, have a fixed number of shares, 59.4M in the case of GBT.
Significantly, US securities law dictates that trusts are only available to accredited investors and subject to a six-month holding period. What’s more GBT shares aren’t redeemable.
Partly because of these barriers to liquidity, Grayscale charges a 2% annual management fee on its Bitcoin trust. What’s more, as the only such investment product on the U.S. market, Grayscale has little incentive to lower the costs incurred by investors.
Due to its high fees and rigid constraints compared to simply owning Bitcoin, GBT has plenty of critics.
For example, the Gemini co-founder Cameron Winklevoss has called GBT “toxic,” lambasting its “astronomical” fees.
Yet, Grayscale has publicly committed to lowering fees if GBT is converted to an ETF. Moreover, with the SEC due to make a decision on seven ETF applications by mid-October, investors’ options may soon grow, increasing competition in the space.
With such financial heavyweights closing in on the market for Bitcoin investment products, Grayscale may soon find its pole position threatened.