Sterling Witzke, partner at the Winklevoss twins’ family office Winklevoss Capital, says she doesn’t think 2019 will be the watershed year for institutional investors to get into crypto. Witzke backed her claim by arguing that expectations are running ahead of facts on the ground.
Witzke made her remarks during an interview with at the Crypto Finance Conference in St. Moritz, Switzerland, Jan. 17. She argued that the upshot of the 2017 crypto market bull run — when Bitcoin soared to all-time highs of $20,000 a coin — has been a skewed perception of what it takes for traditional capital to embrace innovation:
“Because the end of 2017 was so crazy, people tend to think the space moves at lightning speed [..] At the level of underlying [tech] development it [often] does […] but I think it takes a while for institutions to get comfortable. There needs to be better custody, healthy debt and credit markets to get [them] really excited. So I don’t think 2019 will necessarily be the year.”
Witzke added that while she’s seen many investors thoughtfully dip their toes into crypto, she hasn’t really seen any take the plunge. Two factors she isolated as important were a lack of regulatory clarity — especially in the United States — and concerns over security.
As reported, the twins’ Gemini crypto exchange has recently launched an ad campaign which places a strong accent on solid regulation and compliance — encapsulated in slogans such as “crypto needs rules” and “crypto without chaos.” In light of some community opinions that this agenda runs counter to the original peer-to-peer ethos of crypto innovation, Witzke argued consumers in crypto deserve the same protections as traditional investors.
“The distinction comes,” she said, “between the protocol layer and the companies and applications that are built on top of it. At the protocol level, it’s absolutely correct you don’t need more regulations or rules, because those are already built in.”
A report issued last fall from “Big Four” auditor KPMG proposed that institutional investors are what is needed for the crypto industry to realize its potential as a full-fledged asset class — an opinion that is shared by many prominent voices within the crypto industry itself. Others have voiced concerns over the potentially adverse or — for some — unwanted impact of the increasing financialization of the sector.
In interviews tied to their recent ad campaign, Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss steered the conversation beyond regulatory matters, saying they believe that stablecoins and tokenized securities are today among the most exciting developments in crypto. Their view was echoed at Crypto Conference this week by Bitcoin Association Switzerland board member Luzius Meisser, who said “stablecoins are a precondition for average companies to bring their equity onto the blockchain.”