Because of FTX Spreads, BlockFi has filed for bankruptcy.
BlockFi was tied to FTX, and after FTX died, it became unclear how stable BlockFi would be.
BlockFi, a cryptocurrency lender that helped retail investors get in on the crypto craze, filed for bankruptcy on Monday. It was hurt by its financial ties to FTX, a troubled exchange whose recent demise has shaken the cryptocurrency industry to its core.
BlockFi, which is based in Jersey City, New Jersey, targeted small investors by giving them loans backed by cryptocurrencies in minutes without credit checks and accounts that paid high interest on cryptocurrency deposits. As of the year before, the lender said it had more than 450,000 retail clients.
On Monday, BlockFi, a company that was started in 2017 and filed for Chapter 11 protection in New Jersey. Its fall is the latest example of an industry built on weak foundations, where companies are so connected that a single tremor can cause a lot of financial trouble.
BlockFi is not the only company that lent cryptocurrency and then went bankrupt. In July, Celsius Network and Voyager Digital, two of its competitors, both went out of business within a week of each other. After a market panic in the spring caused the value of some popular cryptocurrencies to drop, they had a hard time getting back to where they were before. In just one week, the price of bitcoin fell by 20%.
Since then, BlockFi still can’t believe it. In June, the lender negotiated a partnership with FTX. At the time, the partnership was seen as a safety net because FTX was a reputable and dominant exchange in the cryptocurrency business. FTX agreed to give the company a $400 million credit line, which is like a loan that BlockFi can use when it needs to.
When BlockFi CEO Zac Prince announced the funding, he said that it would give the company “access to money that will significantly strengthen our balance sheet.” In the agreement, FTX also had the option to buy BlockFi.
BlockFi later borrowed $275 million from an FTX affiliate, according to its bankruptcy papers. Because of this, when FTX failed and had to file for bankruptcy because of bad business decisions and poor management, BlockFi also started to have trouble.
A few days after the exchange went down, BlockFi told its customers that they couldn’t get their money back because the company had “substantial exposure” to FTX. This meant that the company had more funds it was supposed to get from the agreement and other assets that were stored on the FTX platform.
BlockFi said in its bankruptcy filing on Monday that it has about $257 million in cash on hand to keep running. The company had more than 100,000 creditors, and its assets and debts added up to $10 billion, according to court documents. It also said that costs, especially labor costs, would go down by a lot. As of the year before, 850 people worked there.
BlockFi also said that it would focus on getting all debts owed to the company, including those owed by FTX, paid back. Still, it warned that the exchange’s bankruptcy could make it take longer to get back FTX assets.
John J. Ray III, who is the new CEO of FTX and was the CEO of Enron when it went bankrupt, said that the company’s problems are “unprecedented.” Legal experts say that the process of splitting up and getting back assets could take years.
BlockFi was already being looked at by regulators. In February, the Securities and Exchange Commission settled with the company’s lending arm for $100 million because it made loans without registering them as securities and didn’t register as an investment company. The SEC also found that BlockFi made false and misleading claims about how risky its loan portfolio and lending activities were.
The SEC is still owed $30 million by BlockFi, according to its bankruptcy petition. This makes the SEC its fourth-largest creditor. West Realm Shires, the parent company of FTX’s U.S. exchange and BlockFi’s second-largest creditor, is owed $275 million. With approximately $729 million, its largest creditor is Ankura Trust Company, which specializes in managing loans for troubled enterprises.
According to documents filed with the bankruptcy court, Peter Thiel helps fund 19 percent of Valar Ventures, which controls 19 percent of BlockFi. When asked for comment, Mr. Thiel’s spokesperson didn’t answer right away.
Mark Renzi of Berkeley Research Group, who is the company’s financial adviser, said that since the company was started, BlockFi has tried to make the cryptocurrency market better and grow it. “BlockFi expects a clear process that leads to the best outcome for all clients and other stakeholders.”
The law firm Haynes and Boone, the investment bank Moelis & Company, and the strategic consultant C Street Advisory Group are also bankruptcy consultants for BlockFi.