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Silvergate Bank plans to offer loans to crypto companies

Steven Zheng

Silvergate Capital Corporation, the holding company of startup-friendly Silvergate Bank, recently posted an updated S1 on August 15 in preparation for its upcoming IPO. In the updated filing, Silvergate notes that "there may be attractive opportunities to provide digital currency borrowing facilities to deepen our high quality customer relationships and further enhance our interest income." Despite the risk profile of many crypto-related firms, Silvergate banked some of the earliest startups working in the cryptocurrency space, including Gemini, Paxos, bitFlyer, and Kraken.

As part of its roadmap, Silvergate is working on a credits product due to significant demand from its customers and prospective customers looking to borrow funds to buy digital currencies. The product is set to launch in the "latter part of 2019." According to Silvergate, the structure of the product would have the borrower "provide digital currency or U.S. dollars as collateral in an amount significantly greater than the line of credit." The bank would then "set a conservative aggregate lending amount to refine the product, and will develop a risk framework to minimize risk and further develop lending models over time."

Silvergates notes that SEN, its proprietary payments network designed for the digital currency industry, would play a large role in the credits product. "For example, an exchange client could hold the digital currency collateral, we could use the SEN to initially fund the loan from our balance sheet, and in the event of a collateral deficiency, we could immediately sell the digital currency collateral through our exchange client and use the SEN to bring the resulting funds back to our balance sheet," the firm notes, adding that the credit solution along with SEN will provide "greater capital efficiency for institutional investor clients that wish to transact without needing to move liquidity on and off different exchanges."

The updated filing also shows that payments through SEN have doubled since the last updated filing, from $4.1B in Q1 of 2019 to $8.6B in Q2 of 2019.