Erik Weijers, a month ago
What does one of the oldest American banks have in common with the Russian government? Both have signaled in their own way: crypto is here to stay. The Russian government will subsidize a huge Bitcoin mining facility in Siberia. And American bank BNY Mellon did a survey which showed that 91% of institutional investors are interested in investing in crypto.
BNY Mellon polled a few hundred institutional clients. Even though the poll happened amidst the 2022 bear market, 88% of those surveyed said they are still moving forward with their plans around digital assets. 91% says they are interested in putting their money into tokenized products.
If everyone is so interested, why is institutional adoption still quite slow? In recent years, it has become almost a bit of a joke in crypto circles: 'The institutions are coming!' But how many companies have put Bitcoin or Ethereum on their balance sheet? How many countries issue government bonds on-chain? A fraction of a percent of those that are apparently interested.
The explanation is probably the roadblocks institutions still experience. American regulators are going tough on crypto, even discouraging banks to do business with crypto companies doesn't help. Reputational risk still plays a part here. 'Jumping ship' from the traditional system to a new one is scary. Everyone wants to be second, but no one wants to be first, it appears.
From an entirely different corner of the world came the news that the Russian government will subsidize a Bitcoin mining plant. The facility, which opens this year, will deploy 30,000 miners, employ 100 workers, and consume 100 megawatts. The location? East Siberia.
Unlike many new plants these days, this one isn't off grid but connected to the power grid. As a rule, consumer electricity prices are too high for BTC miners to be profitable. That is why the Russian government will subsidize prices with 50%. There will also be other benefits, such as low income taxes.
What is going on here? Totalitarian state Russia has in the past given off mixed signals with regards to crypto. It tightly monitors its citizens crypto investments and doesn't allow crypto for payments of goods and services. But since a year or so, it is ramping up its state-controlled Bitcoin mining. This mixed attitude isn't without precedent. For example, in 1933, the United States banned its citizens from owning gold. At the same time, it started hoarding gold in its federal reserves in record amounts. In a comparable way, the Russian government believes in Bitcoin as an asset, but mostly wants to benefit from it at the state level.
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