The global financial system has been teetering on the brink of collapse for a couple of years now, thanks to the stupidity of lockdowns and business closures during the COVID-19 pandemic. But now the system is really in trouble as other factors like war, inflation, and ongoing supply chain issues put even more pressure on already weak financial institutions.
On Wednesday afternoon, the holding company of Silvergate Bank, a significant player in the world of cryptocurrencies, announced its plans to wind down operations and liquidate, Barron’s reported this week, noting that the once-stout financial giant is on its way to the ashbin of history.
“The holding company, Silvergate Capital SI –16.20% (ticker: SI), said in a news release Wednesday afternoon that its liquidation plan includes the full repayment of all deposits and that most deposit-related services will remain available during the process of shutting down,” the outlet noted further.
According to the release:
In light of recent industry and regulatory developments, Silvergate believes that an orderly wind down of Bank operations and a voluntary liquidation of the Bank is the best path forward. The Bank’s wind down and liquidation plan includes full repayment of all deposits. The Company is also considering how best to resolve claims and preserve the residual value of its assets, including its proprietary technology and tax assets.
In connection with the above: Centerview Partners LLC is acting as financial advisor, Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP is acting as legal advisor and Strategic Risk Associates is providing transition project management assistance.
In addition, Silvergate Bank made a decision to discontinue the Silvergate Exchange Network (SEN), which it announced on March 3, 2023 on its public website. All other deposit-related services remain operational as the Company works through the wind down process. Customers will be notified should there be any further changes.
“This is very bad for the industry,” Mizuho analyst Dan Dolev, who has been bearish about the long-term prospects of the digital assets industry for some time, told Barron’s. “You don’t want to have a house in a neighborhood where all the windows are broken.”
Silvergate Bank, founded in the late 1980s, experienced rapid growth in 2013 when it began to focus on attracting cryptocurrency companies as customers. At the time, many in the crypto industry had trouble finding traditional firms that would offer them services. As the market for Bitcoin and other tokens grew, so did the bank, and it grew its deposit base to $14.3 billion by the end of 2021, the outlet noted further.
Last year, a series of bankruptcies in the crypto industry, including fraud allegations against trading platform FTX, with whom Silvergate had a banking relationship, led to a run on deposits in the fourth quarter. As a result, the bank’s deposit base dropped from $14.3 billion to $3.8 billion, the outlet added.
“Today we are seeing what can happen when a bank is overreliant on a risky, volatile sector like cryptocurrencies,” Senate Banking Committee Chair Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said in a statement on the collapse.
Barron’s added that the collapse of Silvergate Bank, although it never grew to be more than a niche bank, has serious consequences for the crypto industry as most major digital-assets firms had accounts there at one time. The bank had created the Silvergate Exchange Network, which allowed its own customers to send money to each other in near real-time, 24 hours a day, without going through other intermediaries.
Meanwhile, the Silicon Valley Bank has also collapsed, as CNN reported on Friday, noting: “Silicon Valley Bank collapsed Friday morning after a stunning 48 hours in which its capital crisis set off fears of a meltdown across the banking industry.”
According to an analysis of the situation by the private intelligence firm Forward Observer: “SVB was forced to take emergency action to raise capital and avoid insolvency, causing a bank run as venture capital firms moved their cash out of the bank. It’s unclear if this is leading to another 2008 ‘Lehman Moment,’ however, it does come on the heels of the failure of Silvergate, a crypto-related banking institution, and before that, the multi-billion dollar failure of the FTX crypto exchange.
“I expect these tremors in the U.S. financial system to continue as the Fed removes liquidity from the global financial system. We may finally be entering the ‘break something’ phase of the Fed’s rate hike cycle that causes system-wide contagion,” the analyst added in a subscriber note.