Digital Wallet to allow users to save, spend and invest in cryptocurrencies and tokenized versions of physical assets
ETF specialist WisdomTree has revealed plans to launch a blockchain-native financial services mobile app later this year as it looks to expand its presence in the digital assets space.
Called WisdomTree Prime, the app is designed to offer decentralized finance (DeFi) attributes, such as choice, transparency and inclusivity, CEO Jonathan Steinberg said during a Friday earnings call.
It will allow users to save, spend and invest in cryptoassets such as bitcoin and ether, blockchain-enabled funds and tokenized versions of physical assets like gold, company executives said.
“It’s the convergence of blockchain technology with universal smartphone ownership and tokenization with smart contracts that will effectively blur the lines between savings, payments and investments, fundamentally changing the way consumers view and interact with their own money and assets,” Steinberg said.
WisdomTree, which has $76 billion of assets under management, is targeting a beta launch of the app in certain states during the second quarter, with a national rollout expected by the end of the year.
Steinberg noted the efficiencies and enhancements that blockchain technology offers, such as near-instant transfers and automation. He compared the emerging space to the ETF industry 25 years ago, but called it a larger opportunity.
“Many have created these mobile apps but are using the old rails, so they’re not native to the blockchain,” the CEO said. “I can’t stress enough that starting now, being native to the blockchain will prove to be one of the great differentiating advantages.”
Recent product expansion
The upcoming app launch follows WisdomTree’s crypto product expansion in recent months.
The company in November added three physically backed cryptocurrency basket exchange-traded products (ETPs) to its lineup of offerings in Europe.
WisdomTree Global Chief Investment Officer Jeremy Schwartz said Friday that the firm has a “strong pipeline” for additional crypto ETPs in the region. In the US, he added, separately managed accounts and direct indexing are currently the best ways for advisors to give their clients crypto exposure.
The firm began offering a crypto index that it created with Ritholtz Wealth Management in December.
WisdomTree, which has 75 ETFs trading in the US with roughly $47 billion of assets, also recently began providing exposure to bitcoin futures contracts within actively managed commodity and managed futures strategies.
The company amended its application for an ETF in December that would invest directly in bitcoin a week after the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rejected its proposal.
“We have no guidance on when [that] might be approved,” Will Peck, WisdomTree’s head of digital assets, said during the earnings call. “But we’re very optimistic that ultimately spot ETFs will be approved here in the US for bitcoin and ether.”
BY: Ben Strack