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Bitwise Liquidates XRP Position in Crypto Index Fund Following SEC Suit Against Ripple

Crypto money manager Bitwise has liquidated $9.3 million worth of XRP in its crypto index fund.

Dec 23, 2020 at 3:45 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 10:47 a.m. UTC

Crypto money manager Bitwise has liquidated $9.3 million worth of XRP in its crypto index fund.

The firm acted shortly after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) sued the token’s alleged creator, Ripple Labs Inc., for conducting an unregistered and ongoing securities offering.

“Prior to the sale of the asset on December 22, 2020, XRP was approximately 3.8% of the Fund,” the firm wrote. “The Fund liquidated its position and reinvested the proceeds in other portfolio assets.”

The Bitwise 10 Crypto Index Fund is largely denominated in bitcoin and ether. The funds from its liquidated XRP position have been reinvested into the other assets in the fund, according to a company press release. The fund also holds litecoin, bitcoin cash, LINK, ADA, XLM, EOS and tezos

“The Bitwise 10 Crypto Index Fund does not invest in assets that are reasonably likely to be deemed securities under federal or state securities laws,” the company wrote. “Bitwise’s decision to liquidate its position in XRP was based on consideration of new public information from the SEC’s complaint.”

While there is no fund linked to the Bitwise 100 Total Market Crypto Index, which is maintained for academic and research purposes, XRP will be removed from that index at 4 p.m. ET today, Matt Hougan, Bitwise’s chief investment officer, told CoinDesk. The Bitwise 100 combines the holdings of the Bitwise 10 Large Cap Crypto Index, the Bitwise 20 Mid Cap Crypto Index and the Bitwise 70 Small Cap Crypto Index, he explained.

Digital asset manager Grayscale Investments did not respond to a request for comment by press time. 

The New York-based company, which is owned by CoinDesk parent company Digital Currency Group, currently offers investors an XRP Trust, which is modeled after the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust. Since its inception, the XRP trust has decreased in value by more than 80%, according to a July 2020 report.

The vehicles from both Bitwise and Grayscale are meant for accredited investors only and provide access to crypto price gains without having to hold the underlying assets.

Banks hold tight

While Bitwise was fast to change course, major Japanese financial group SBI Holdings told CoinDesk the SEC lawsuit doesn’t yet affect its partnership with Ripple.

“As far as we have heard, the lawsuit is currently in the process of being filed and no injunction has been issued against Ripple for the sale of XRP or the provision of [On-Demand Liquidity] and other products, and the company is continuing its business as usual and pushing forward with the expansion of RippleNet,” a company spokesperson said in an emailed statement sent Wednesday. “Under these circumstances, SBI Holdings will continue to be a strong partner of Ripple as we work together to expand our business in Asia.”

Ripple’s On-Demand Liquidity (ODL) service allows companies to transfer funds from one currency to XRP and from XRP to another currency. The cross-border payment tool allows enterprises to avoid opening bank accounts in countries they want to send funds to.

Earlier this year, Ripple and SBI holdings announced that Ripple planned to invest in MoneyTap, a blockchain money-transfer app launched through a joint venture between SBI and Ripple called Ripple Asia. In January of this year, SBI announced it would give shareholders the option to receive XRP as a benefit.

A spokesperson for U.S. regional bank PNC said it would be “premature” for the bank to comment on its use of Ripple’s technology since it takes advantage of xCurrent, the distributed ledger technology that does not use XRP. PNC’s treasury management division uses xCurrent to exchange messages between bankers and clients.

Spanish bank Santander, global trade-finance bank Euro Exim Bank, London-based Barclays and Japan’s MUFG Bank declined to comment. 

Eleven other financial institutions known to be linked with Ripple’s suite of services have yet to reply to CoinDesk’s requests for comment.

UPDATE (Dec. 23, 16:41 UTC): Adds additional information regarding Grayscale, SBI Holdings and other firms with known ties to Ripple and/or XRP.

Read our ongoing coverage of the SEC's case against Ripple and its impact on the industry.

DISCLOSURE

The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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