12.06.2017
By Rob Daly

Fund of Funds Eye Cryptocurrencies

Gaining exposure to the cryptocurrency market is about to get easier as the CME Group and Cboe Global Markets expect to launch trading in their respective bitcoin futures in a matter of days.

However, for investors who prefer to invest in hedge funds rather than holding digital assets or derivatives of digital assets, finding open funds can prove challenging.

Some of the funds specializing in cryptocurrency have closed due to their holdings growing 1,000% to 2,000% this year, according to Joe DiPasquale, founder of the BitBull Capital.

“The liquidity in cryptocurrency is changing rapidly from market cap this summer for all crypto assets was $100 billion and now its over $300 billion a few months later,” he said.

The issue led DiPasquale to establish BitBull Capital’s fund of funds in December 2016 and started to accept investments in October 2017 before investing in seven cryptocurrency- and token-focused hedge funds a month later.

Between its founding and making its initial investments, BitBull performed due diligence on the 135 registered cryptocurrency hedge funds and evaluated approximately three to five funds that each offered.

“One might be trading on the exchanges while another could be a focus on ICOs, which are pre-exchange where they are investing in tokens before they trade on exchanges,” DiPasquale told Markets Media. “There will be other strategies like quantitative and arbitrage strategies and very common is a long-only strategy.”

BitBull eventually whittled down its investment opportunities to seven of the 135 hedge funds.

“We created a proprietary mix of due diligence questions based on traditional hedge-fund due diligence and areas of which we are aware within crypto that need additional scrutiny, which the main one would be security practices,” noted DiPasquale.

Although most of the hedge funds do not store their digital assets on air-gapped computers locked in a Faraday cage, he has seen many hedge funds relying on safety deposit boxes and using systems that have never touched the Internet for cold storage.

“Some of the funds work with third-party custodians, but not all do since many custodians do not work with all crypto assets yet,” he added.

Overall, DiPasquale found the hedge fund community’s approach to asset security incredibly well baked.

“Every fund has such a focus on security because no one wants the egg on its face from having a security issue or having something stolen from a wallet,” he said. “People are very concerned with security and have many different practices from keeping coins off exchanges and in cold storage to needing to have multiple people to unlock them.”

Currently, BitBull is taking a long-only investment strategy with its fund.

“But we will look at a multitude of factors so that the multiple times a month, or year, when these crypto assets show volatility, we will make sure they do not ride the downturns by going long on the dollar or on other cryptocurrencies that are rising,” said DiPasquale.

He expects that once the cryptocurrency market is mature enough, possibly as soon as 2018, that the fund will adopt some shorting strategies eventually.

“Right now, we have taken the strategic decision not to short when the risk-reward benefit is not there for our investors,” he added.

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