Open pretty much any mainstream financial media source and it’s hard to feel cheerful. Economic growth is slowing. The yield curve is flattening. Trade tensions are tensing. There’s plenty for an institutional investor to fret about.
Yet none of those worries are top-of-mind for institutional investors these days when it comes to their crypto investments. Along with most of the blockchain sector, they’re more engrossed in the drama unfolding around the death of the CEO of a Canadian crypto exchange.
In case you missed the story on CoinDesk, the CEO of beleaguered Canadian crypto exchange QuadrigaCX, which was already in trouble because of frozen accounts, passed away unexpectedly in India in December. Leaving aside the suspense over the encrypted laptop, the debated existence of cold wallets and the exact role of the chihuahuas in all this, the attention-grabbing detail is that he apparently was the sole keeper of the password that could access client funds. When he died, he took the password with him.
On the surface, it doesn’t look like this has much to do with institutional investment. The exchange was not exactly geared up for rigorous checks and oversight. But its fate, and that of its clients, points to a fundamental truth about crypto investing for institutions, one that both colors allocation decisions and shapes emerging infrastructure.