Crypto exchange Gemini pushes into wealth management with acquisition of BITRIA

Investing

David Abner, Gemini’s Global Head of Business Development.
Source: David Abner

Gemini, the $7.1 billion crypto exchange, is getting into wealth management with the acquisition of a digital asset platform for financial advisors, CNBC has learned exclusively.

The company has agreed to purchase BITRIA, a five-year-old San Francisco-based start-up whose tools help advisors manage holdings of bitcoin and other tokens, according to Gemini’s global head of business development Dave Abner.

The move creates one of the industry’s first full-service digital asset custodians for advisors, according to Abner, who declined to disclose how much Gemini paid in the deal. Gemini intends to combine its crypto custody and exchange capabilities with BITRIA’s portfolio management programs, allowing advisors to do things like tax-loss harvesting, he said.

“Advisors manage the biggest pool of money in the country right now, and they’re hearing from their clients that want access to crypto,” Abner said this week in a phone interview. “This creates a one-stop, end-to-end experience for advisors to manage all of their clients’ digital assets within their traditional portfolio management systems.”

Crypto insiders have forecast a boom in mergers this year as a cohort of newly flush digital asset giants like Gemini and Coinbase look to acquire capabilities and expand offerings. Just yesterday, Coinbase announced it was buying Chicago-based FairX so that it could offer derivatives to retail and institutional customers.

Though crypto started more than a decade ago as a retail investor-led phenomenon, the rise of bitcoin, ethereum and other coins in the past two years has enticed bigger investors into the space. That’s created the need for ways to provide wealthy investors access to crypto through familiar wealth management vehicles like separately managed accounts.

“Nobody else in the crypto space is looking at servicing the wealth management community the way that Gemini is,” Abner said. “We’re already the largest service provider to crypto ETFs globally. Now we are moving into the wealth space, and we’re going to be the only pure-play full service provider of crypto assets” to advisors.

Source: Gemini

BITRIA, which changed its name from Blockchange in November, is one of a small handful of crypto companies that have sprung up to service financial advisors. Competitors include Onramp Invest and Eaglebrook Advisors. The broader financial advisor industry’s assets have surged along with booming equities markets, topping $110 trillion during the pandemic.

Gemini, founded in 2014 by Winklevoss twins Tyler and Cameron, was valued at $7.1 billion in a November funding round. Ballooning valuations in the industry have left companies flush with cash and with mandates to ramp up growth.

The acquisition followed a partnership between the two firms announced in 2020. BITRIA’s employees, including co-founder and CEO Daniel Eyre, are joining Gemini, the companies said.

“The future of wealth management lies in digital assets and blockchain technology and the integration of BITRIA’s technology with Gemini provides a bridge to that future,” Eyre said in a statement.

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