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Grayscale’s Bitcoin Sell-Off: $500 Million Transferred to Coinbase

Grayscale is transferring substantial amounts of Bitcoin to Coinbase in increments of $500 million each—here’s the rationale behind this move.

The recent decline in Bitcoin, witnessing a drop of over 14% this week, seems to be tied to Grayscale, the digital asset manager affiliated with the crypto giant Digital Currency Group. The approval of spot crypto exchange-traded funds (ETFs) just a week ago had historic significance, yet Grayscale’s actions are influencing the market downturn.

Investors in Grayscale’s Bitcoin Trust (GBTC), now converted into a Bitcoin ETF following SEC approval, are rapidly divesting their positions, surprising analysts with the magnitude of the sell-off. The shift from a closed-end fund, where BTC redemption was not possible, to an ETF has prompted significant cash-outs.

In the initial days, over half a billion dollars were withdrawn, and in the last five days, a staggering $2.2 billion has exited the fund according to Bloomberg data. This contrasts with other ETFs experiencing inflows, with BlackRock’s iShares Bitcoin Trust (IBIT) leading with $1.2 billion in inflows.

Senior ETF analyst at Bloomberg, Eric Balchunas, was shocked by the big outflows GBTC experienced, wondering “when will this bleeding stop?”

The unexpected outflows from Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) are attributed to traders capitalizing on gains after being previously locked into the fund. GBTC’s 1.5% fee, the highest among U.S. spot Bitcoin ETFs, further motivates investors to cash out. In contrast, BlackRock’s IBIT boasts a 0.12% fee (set to increase to 0.25% in a year).

As a consequence of investors abandoning GBTC, Grayscale is transferring substantial BTC amounts to its custodian, Coinbase, for selling—resulting in a dip in Bitcoin prices. Arkham Intelligence’s on-chain data reveals that Grayscale has moved around $500 million in Bitcoin to Coinbase yesterday within six hours. Analysts speculate that these outflows are contributing to the observed drop in BTC’s price.

James Butterfill, CoinShares’ head of research, suggests that further price weakness depends on when GBTC holders cease selling, while acknowledging the relatively higher fees of GBTC compared to its competitors.

Despite the outflows, Grayscale maintains that the fund has been successful, citing substantial trading volume, its role as a leading risk transfer vehicle, and the best performance among spot Bitcoin ETFs since its launch, as noted by John Hoffman, Grayscale’s managing director of sales and distribution, in a statement to Decrypt.

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