Cryptocurrencies have quickly emerged as one of the hottest investment vehicles of the past decade, gaining traction first from retail traders, as seen in 2017, and now from institutional investors.
From being a domain of bedroom coders to a growing financial sector with over $2 trillion in market capitalization, the crypto space has seen a sudden surge in value and continues to attract huge interest from investors.
While crypto assets have proven to be valuable, volatility remains a top concern, especially for institutional players. Sure, any investor can buy some cryptocurrencies and profit from their rising value. However, investing in established companies that are involved in the crypto and blockchain business is another way of diversifying and gaining from the overall uptake of everything blockchain and crypto-related.
This gives investors exposure to an investment vehicle with a low correlation to the volatile price swings of the crypto market.
Here is a look at some of the top publicly traded digital asset companies available to retail and institutional investors alike.
Coinbase’s direct listing on Nasdaq in April this year was a watershed moment for the entire cryptocurrency market. Boasting as the largest crypto trading volume for a crypto exchange in the United States, Coinbase made its debut on Nasdaq as a publicly-traded company with a valuation of close to $100 billion. Coinbase chose to go with a direct listing as opposed to the conventional initial public offering.
Founded by Fred Ersham and Brian Armstrong in 2012, Coinbase offers crypto trading services to more than 40 million retail users and about 7,000 institutions spread across the globe. While its main source of revenue has been the transaction fees on its crypto exchange, Coinbase hopes to go beyond trading to offer a debit card that allows consumers to spend their digital assets conveniently. Coinbase also offers a cloud-based digital asset custody service, an asset loan service and a data monitoring service for digital assets on the blockchain.
Microstrategy is a software company with more than 40% of its market valuation invested in Bitcoin (BTC). The company has been increasing its Bitcoin stash over the past year with an accumulative purchase of Bitcoin worth more than $5 billion at current prices.
With more than 100,000 BTC to its name, Microstrategy has gone from relative obscurity in the world of finance to a crypto giant and a well-known firm on Wall Street. The company’s CEO, Michael Saylor, a Bitcoin evangelist, routinely touts Bitcoin on social media as a revolutionary invention and has also been vocal in defense of the company’s move to invest aggressively in crypto.
Recently, MicroStrategy sold $1 billion worth of its stocks holdings to inject the proceeds in acquiring more Bitcoin. Since the company announced its debut in Bitcoin, Microstrategy’s stock price has soared by more than 400%.
Riot Blockchain is a U.S.-based Bitcoin mining and publicly listed company that uses a multitude of specialized machines called application-specific integrated circuits to mine Bitcoin. Recently, the Bitcoin mining firm dove deeper into the business with the purchase of a Bitcoin hosting facility in North America called Whinstone US.
In a press release, Riot Blockchain’s CEO Jason Les mentioned that “with Whinstone’s preeminent infrastructure and best-in-class construction, development and operations organization, Riot is extremely well-positioned to increase the scale and scope of its operations.”
Whinstone’s energy management strategy will reportedly help Riot Blockchain manage its Bitcoin mining energy costs, enabling access to reliable and responsive power to further support the Bitcoin network.
Riot Blockchain receives its mining machines from Bitmain and hosts more than 35,000 Antminers, leading to a hash rate capacity of 3.8 EH/s.
Although PayPal stock is not purely a crypto play, the company opened its doors to digital currencies, allowing its customers with personal accounts to buy, sell and hold several cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin. Customers on PayPal can go as far as checking out with crypto even as the company continues to test out the concept of allowing crypto on its platform.
Given that digital assets and crypto are the future of finance, PayPal’s adoption of the crypto is a move to increase the usage of its app among retail investors, as well as facilitate more transactions between customers and merchants.
Furthermore, the company’s CEO has mentioned crypto several times, adding that its crypto functionality is not a speculative move but rather a developmental one that will offer customers more choices when shopping online.
Marathon Digital Holdings
Marathon Digital is a Nasdaq-listed company that has seen its stock price rally recently due to its Bitcoin purchases and mining activities. In May this year, the company released a letter of intent to collaborate with Compute North in hosting a Bitcoin mining data center with a 300-megawatt capacity.
So far, the company has seen tremendous progress with its revenue rising by 1,444% year-over-year with a host of over 70,000 Bitcoin miners setting its hash rate to 10.37 EH/s. Given the rising Bitcoin mining energy concerns and the recent developments, Marathons Digital expects its operation to achieve carbon neutrality by up to 70%.
Marathon Digital’s balance sheet has about 18.3 % of its total valuation invested in cash and Bitcoin, and continues to purchase more Bitcoin as well as store the crypto it produces at much larger percentages. According to reports, Marathon Digital is capable of mining upwards of 50 Bitcoin per day, setting the company’s value over $5 billion.
Hut 8 Mining
Hut 8 Mining features a unique approach to Bitcoin mining with a business model that is designed with scalability in mind. Believed to be one of the most promising Canada-based mining and blockchain infrastructure firms, the company has mined 264 Bitcoin in September alone, averaging about 9.11 BTC mined per day.
The company has adopted a long-term Bitcoin hold strategy where 100% of the self-mined Bitcoin is deposited in custody as the company advances toward its goal of holding 5,000 self mined Bitcoin by the end of the year. As of Sept. 30, Hut 8 Mining has accumulated 4,724 Bitcoin in custody.
EQONEX Group is a digital asset firm offering financial advisory services. This Nasdaq-listed company has since rebranded with the inclusion of additional services such as a crypto exchange, a custody platform and a multi-venture trading service, as well as an over-the-counter (OTC) offering.
With a Nasdaq listing in September 2020, EQONEX has since emerged as the first crypto-related firm to be listed on Nasdaq. So far, its crypto exchange has been growing, hitting a 24-hour trading volume of over $260 million and a 30-day volume of $4.5 billion.
Although it is not one of the biggest crypto exchanges, EQONEX touts its regulatory compliance and the fact that it doesn't make markets, thus avoiding the conflict of trading against its clients.
Growing institutional interest
Investing in stocks from digital asset companies offers a distinct advantage, whereby the investor is not directly exposed to the volatile market movements that riddle the rest of the crypto market.
Investing in crypto-related businesses also grants an investor the convenience of avoiding the complexities that come with buying and safely storing digital assets, all while exposing the investor to the upside of the crypto and blockchain industry.
Whether investing directly or indirectly, it has never been easier for institutional capital to flow into the crypto and digital asset market, given the increasing number of digital asset companies whose stock is traded publicly on stock exchanges such as Nasdaq.
Even companies such as Nvidia and AMD are increasingly contributing to the crypto and blockchain industry thanks to the use of their graphical processing units in mining crypto. These are just a few picks of the many publicly listed digital asset companies that investors can look to when it comes to traditional routes of investing in crypto.