Not ‘just a Millennial holding’: Broker SelfWealth offers crypto


“We are continuing to work both with our customers, to make sure we are delivering the sort of experience that they demand, but also with regulators to make sure that all of the risks are adequately disclosed and appropriate for our customers,” the spokesperson said.

“Our intention is to progressively rollout more features to more customers throughout 2022.”

It also comes as bitcoin limps towards recovery after sliding more than 50 per cent from November 2021 to January 2022, in what has been dubbed a “crypto winter”.

But SelfWealth chief executive Cath Whitaker was unperturbed by the latest rollercoaster.

“This is a good time to launch. Bitcoin has a speculative nature, but the dips present opportunities, and it is reclaiming a fair value,” Ms Whitaker said.

BTC Markets CEO Caroline Bowler agreed, noting that anyone who has invested in bitcoin for more than five years is used to seeing this sort of market cycle, and that these movements now form part of the investment discussion.

The more interesting story, according to Ms Bowler, is of a cryptocurrency liquidity crunch. During the lowest points of the rout, her buy wall was “strongly” green; the buyers were still around, but no one else wanted to sell.

However, Australian Securities and Investments Commission Chairman Joseph Longo warned investors in January to prepare for potentially significant losses on cryptocurrency investments.

An International Monetary Fund report also released in January, claimed increased cryptocurrency adoption around the world raises concerns for financial stability.

Bitcoin is mirroring stock prices more than it did before the COVID-19 pandemic, the IMF said, and this trend heightens the risk that crypto-volatility could trigger broader market shocks.

Dispelling cryptocurrency assumptions

With $7.97 billion in investor funds under administration, SelfWealth is one of the country’s largest brokers. Compared to the new batch of so-called neo-broker start-ups, its customer base includes self-managed super funds and established investors.

It’s a difference Ms Whitaker has capitalised on with the 11-year-old fintech, positioning SelfWealth as the adult in the room.

Ms Whitaker said the broker can maintain its reputation even as it facilitates access to more volatile cryptocurrency markets.

“We’re very upfront around disclosure and risk,” she said, adding that SelfWealth felt comfortable in the BTC Markets’ partnership due to a shared understanding of “what cryptocurrency is, and isn’t”.

Decisions to invest in cryptocurrency through the platform will also be supported by education tools both before the purchase and as the investor continues to hold the digital currency.

BTC’s Ms Bowler agreed, rejecting the characterisation of bitcoin and the broader cryptocurrency landscape as risky territory.

“It’s only risky if it lacks transparency,” Bowler said.

And, Bowler adds, given how well cryptocurrencies’ volatility is publicised, she would frankly be surprised if investors were funnelling money into cryptocurrency without having an idea of what they’re getting themselves into.

Not just a Millennial holding

Whitaker said SelfWealth and BTC’s launch highlights a broader mainstreaming of cryptocurrency.

In recent days, KPMG Canada added cryptocurrency to its balance sheet, while in November, Australia’s biggest bank CBA announced it would allow its banking app users to hold bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Leading historian and author of The Ascent of Money, Niall Ferguson, has also thrown support behind a sunny future for cryptocurrency, arguing that bitcoin will eventually become a “dependable digital gold” itself.

The decision to launch a cryptocurrency offering was supported by all cohorts of SelfWealth’s 120,000-strong customer base – not just younger investors, Whitaker claimed.

Recent research carried out by consumer research platform Glow found 20 per cent of Australians planning to invest in cryptocurrency are 18-24, but SelfWealth has observed significant interest from all generations.

A survey conducted by the broker found 30 per cent of SelfWealth members already invest in cryptocurrency, and 38 per cent plan to invest more.

“It’s a wrong assumption that it’s just a Millennial holding,” Whitaker said.

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