Silvergate Capital, one of the leading banks for Fintech businesses and cryptocurrency, is facing a number of risks as a result of their exposure to FTX’s collapse. As a publicly traded financial service company listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), Wall Street banks including Morgan Stanley are strongly advising investors to sell Silvergate stocks due to its affiliation with FTX. Because Silvergate positions itself as the main pipeline facilitating the flow of fiat funds and fiat onramps between large crypto exchanges, its impact on the crypto market is comparable to Genesis Trading if they went under.
Silvergate Capital Exposure to FTX is $1.1 billion
Following the collapse of FTX, Silvergate Capital disclosed details of their relationship with FTX and Alameda Research. Although Silvergate does not appear to be a creditor to FTX, they had a sizeable deposit relationship with the exchange, which accounted for nearly 10% of its $11.9 billion in deposits from digital asset customers.
Silvergate claimed its exposure is “minimal” but $1.1 billion is still a lot of money. As a result, investors have begun to fear the crypto bank is developing the same symptoms as other troubled institutions who have fallen to the contagion. Short sellers have already taken their short position on Silvergate, with the stock now down 53% over the past month.
Silvergate Capital CEO Addresses Market Concerns
In response to speculations of market uncertainty, Silvergate Capital CEO Alan Lane asserted that the company followed all relevant regulatory procedures when receiving wires directed to Alameda Research, implementing risk management policies to ensure the security of customer funds. He also noted that the bank has a strong balance sheet and ample liquidity, with cash and securities in excess of its digital asset related deposit liabilities.
If we are taking Lane’s word for it, FTX’s collapse will have little effect on Silvergate. However, the broader market downturn could cause the bank’s foundation to crack if other large depositors continue struggling. Moreover, though Lane claimed they conducted “extensive due diligence” on the FTX group, the community is pointing out its contradiction as they would have prevented it in the first place if they had really done due diligence.
Morgan Stanley Downgrades Silvergate Shares
In a Monday letter to investors, Morgan Stanley lowered its rating on Silvergate’s shares from equal weight to underweight, recommending investors to reduce their exposure to Silvergate stocks. This came across when Silvergate’s digital deposits are down 60% in Q4, citing its need to fund outflows with securities sales and costly wholesale borrowing. With clients withdrawing their deposits, the company is facing even more pressure on its net interest margins (NIM) and net interest income (NII).
Despite Silvergate facing uncertainty in the near-term, the bank has been around since 1988 with a long history of robust financial performances and regulatory experience. Their tier 1 leverage ratio, which measures a bank’s ability to withstand financial stress, was 10.7% in Q3, making them among the top 15% of American banks by this critical metric.
Its long-established regulatory compliance and healthy leverage ratio are set up to weather any financial storm. However, since the crypto industry is still largely unregulated and highly volatile, as well as the downfall of several financial heavyweights, only time will tell if Silvergate will survive this crisis.