Crypto

To His Own Surprise, Crypto Volume Pumper’s Business Is Still Thriving

Eleven months ago, Alexey Andryunin was sure his business was not long for this world. 

A 22-year-old math student from Moscow, Andryunin built a business inflating trade volumes in little-known crypto tokens issued during the 2017 initial coin offering (ICO) craze. In a head-turning interview CoinDesk published last July, Andryunin candidly described the underworld of micro-cap tokens and exchanges surviving on artificial volumes ginned up by paid “market makers” (a traditional finance term used loosely in this context.)

At the time, Andryunin thought his business was heading to a decline: ICOs were moribund, the token market was shrinking and a new wave of regulatory attention was about to scour the shadier corners of the crypto space. 

Related: BitMEX Owner HDR Appoints Former Bank of China Exec to Board

He now says he was mistaken. Business is growing again as token promoters pay him to pump their projects so they’ll be accepted on crypto exchanges. It doesn’t hurt that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a rise in investors looking for the next crypto opportunity.

“We were about to switch to big data analysis, but we didn’t have a moment to start there [because] the crypto market suddenly turned around to us,” he told CoinDesk recently. 

In addition to inflating volumes, his firm is providing all kinds of services to token projects. It will code apps when the founders of the projects have nothing but an idea, Andryunin said – for a price.

Flashback: For $15K, He’ll Fake Your Exchange Volume

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Custody Provider Copper Joins Think Tank to Bridge Gap Between Traditional Finance and Crypto

Crypto custodians are in a race to build the next State Street or BNY Mellon. 

There are only a handful of these types of large custody banks and most of them have been around for hundreds of years. But crypto is such a striking example of old world meeting new that it offers firms a rare opportunity to break into a market that would simply be impossible under normal circumstances.

“In the traditional world you can’t really build a custodian, it’s not something you can just break into,” said Diogo Monica, co-founder of Anchorage, a Silicon Valley-based custody platform specializing in crypto. “BNY Mellon has been around for 300 years and now, in crypto, we have a chance to actually build a foundational company that is potentially going to last for that long,” added Monica.

It’s an inspirational long view for sure, but how will things evolve over the short term?

Recent acquisitions in the crypto space have seen a bundling together of services such as custody, settlement, lending and trade execution. The latest push along the prime broker route came Wednesday with bitcoin futures platform Bakkt teaming up with Galaxy Digital to combine custodial and trading capabilities.

Read more: Behind ‘Prime Broker’ Buzzword Lies a Complex Strategy Game for Crypto Firms

If crypto is entering a period of accelerated consolidation and following similar lines to the traditional world, firms specializing in standalone custody or trade execution may need to pivot to offer additional services or risk being swallowed up.

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