Key Takeaways

  • Harvard, Yale, Brown and University of Michigan have been accumulating cryptocurrencies, among others, according to a CoinDesk report.
  • A source said that the higher education institutions have been buying digital assets for “at least a year.”
  • Coinbase’s “2020 in review” report for institutions mentioned “university endowments.”

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Harvard, Yale, Brown, and the University of Michigan are reportedly among a list of universities making endowment allocations in cryptocurrencies. Coinbase and other exchanges are holding the funds. 

Universities Eye Crypto 

At least four of the world’s leading universities have been buying cryptocurrencies, according to a CoinDesk report yesterday. 

Harvard, Yale, Brown, and the University of Michigan have reportedly been allocating university endowments in cryptocurrencies, alongside other colleges. 

A source said that “a lot of endowments are allocating a little bit to crypto at the moment,” adding that some of these institutions “have been in at least a year.” Cryptocurrencies have experienced a boom recently—in the last 12 months alone, an allocation in Bitcoin would be up 278.6%, according to CoinGecko.  

Though no confirmation has been given from the specific schools, Harvard, Yale, Brown, and the University of Michigan were highlighted as recent crypto converts. 

In Coinbase Prime’s “2020 in review” report, the exchange notes that its client base “now includes more conservative, traditional institutions such as university endowments, public corporations, macro hedge funds, and other multi-strategy allocators.” 

Coinbase Prime is one of the firm’s institutional arms, alongside Coinbase Custody. The company, which is perhaps the world’s best-known cryptocurrency exchange, has helped onboard several institutions to digital assets.

It facilitated MicroStrategy’s now-famous $425 million Bitcoin bet, among other large investments. 

Institutional Digital Asset Adoption 

University endowments typically gather funds such as charitable donations. Some are then invested in other assets. The endowments are used to pay for teaching and research. 

Harvard, Yale, Brown, and the University of Michigan are among the world’s most prestigious universities, and their endowment funds partly reflect that. Harvard, which regularly ranks at the top of university lists alongside Stanford, Oxford, and Cambridge, has an endowment of roughly $41.9 billion, the world’s largest by some distance. 

Harvard’s 2020 financial report highlights an allocation of 18.9% in public equity, 23% in private equity, and 36.4% in hedge funds, though there’s no specific mention of digital assets.   

In October 2018, Yale made an investment of $400 in Paradigm, a fund launched by Fred Ehrsam from Coinbase and Matt Hang from Sequoia Capital. Days later, it emerged that Harvard and other institutions had invested in crypto funds. 

To date, none of the aforementioned universities have confirmed a direct allocation into crypto. It would help consolidate the viewpoint that Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are an emergent asset class, an idea many institutional investors have been warming to since 2020. 

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