Crypto Classification Seeks to Make Industry More Welcoming to TradFi Participants

Cryptocurrency is an incredibly broad and diverse field, with a huge array of wholly different assets, making the industry an intimidating one to enter.

AccessTimeIconFeb 8, 2023 at 1:00 p.m. UTC
Updated May 9, 2023 at 4:07 a.m. UTC
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Cryptocurrency data provider CoinGecko and, the parent firm of investment product provider 21Shares, are rolling out a classification system for crypto assets, the latest in a growing number of efforts to map the taxonomy of the industry and make it more accessible for participants in traditional finance (TradFi).

The Global Crypto Classification Standard, announced Wednesday, categorizes digital assets according to three levels. It joins a classification system called datonomy, constructed by financial services behemoths Goldman Sachs (GS) and MSCI (MSCI) with data provider Coin Metrics, and the Digital Assets Classification Standard (DACS) from CoinDesk Indices that classifies the top 500 digital assets by market capitalization into use case and technology and then into industry and sector.

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  • The core of this trend is an attempt to impose structure on apparent chaos, and help guide conventional investors as they consider stashing money into crypto. There is a huge array of crypto assets, many of which have virtually nothing in common with each other, making the industry an intimidating one to enter.

    “It is crucial as there are still many misconceptions regarding crypto from traditional finance institutions,” a spokesperson told CoinDesk. “The term ‘cryptocurrency,’ widely used, is a misnomer as crypto assets can vary dramatically in nature, both as it relates to the asset (token) itself and the protocol behind it.”

    Understanding distinctions

    The Global Crypto Classification Standard, for example, categorizes assets on three levels. The first deals with networks and protocols, be they cryptocurrencies (bitcoin, monero, etc), smart contract platforms (for example, Ethereum or Solana), decentralized apps (such as Aave, Uniswap) and so on. The second groups assets by industry and sector, including centralized finance, decentralized finance (DeFi), metaverse, identity and infrastructure. The third level deals identifies the nature of the assets: a cryptocurrency, a native currency of a particular network, a stablecoin, a derivative token, or a governance or utility token, and so on.

    In short, the aim is to help companies and investors answer some basic questions about a network or protocol: What does it do? What type of token is associated with it? To what asset class does it belong?

    Having the answers helps TradFi firms know what to expect when they enter a new asset class. It allows them to create index-linked products such as exchange-traded funds (ETF), which helps to attract investors who prefer passive rather than active exposure to an asset or basket of assets.

    On Tuesday, for example, digital asset management platform HeightZero used CoinDesk Indices’ Large Cap Select Index, which provides a weighted performance of the largest digital assets, to offer crypto exposure to its clients in the financial advisory and wealth management spheres.

    The value such products offer is illustrated by last year’s collapse of crypto exchange FTX and lenders Celsius Network and Voyager Digital. All of those operated as centralized platforms. In contrast, many DeFi lending protocols continued with business as normal, offering an alternative investment opportunity if only it can be identified.

    That’s what products such as these are looking to provide.


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    CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that covers the cryptocurrency industry. Its journalists abide by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by the Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, digital assets exchange. The Bullish group is majority-owned by; both companies have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary with an editorial committee to protect journalistic independence. CoinDesk employees, including journalists, may receive options in the Bullish group as part of their compensation.

    Jamie Crawley

    Jamie Crawley is a CoinDesk news reporter based in London.

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