Wall Street charity bike ride draws a bigger crypto crowd this year

Quick Take

  • Crypto’s presence at a popular Wall Street charity event has grown.
  • Paxos, FTX, and BlockFi are among the firms representing crypto at Wall Street Rides Far.

"There’s some up hill, some wonderful down hill, but at the end of it you feel very satisfied and fulfilled."

Brad Vopni's description of the crypto market's cycles sounds very similar to a bike ride he'll be participating in the fall: Wall Street Rides Far, a yearly charity event that draws market participants from across the trading world to raise money for the Autism Science Foundation. The event has several trails ranging from beginner tracks to a 60-mile long ride for expert bikers. 

Vopni—an executive at Hudson River Trading—said this year, the crypto industry has a bigger presence at the event than ever before, with firms like crypto exchange FTX, lending firm BlockFi, trading platform Talos, and Fireblocks all sending riders for the first time.

"And it’s not just sponsorship money they are bringing either – so far Paxos, for example, has 29 riders signed up more than six weeks out from the event," a spokesman for the event said in an email. 

Founded in 2015 by Cboe executive Bryan Harkins, the event has drawn fierce rivals from exchanges like New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq to trading firms like GTS and Virtu to the rolling hills of Westchester County in New York. 

For 2021, the event is on track to blow past last year's total amount raised: $400,000. That's partially thanks to the increase in participation among crypto participants, said Vopni. This is the first year ASF is accepting crypto as a form of payment. 

"I wouldn't be surprised if the proceeds from crypto firms was around a quarter," he said.

In a sense, it indicates how intertwined the crypto market structure world is with traditional finance. Bikers from the likes of Paxos will be alongside executives at Nasdaq, T Rowe Price, and Morgan Stanley. 

"It is a testament to crypto as a whole," Vopni said. 

Harkins agrees. 

“With its continuing maturation as an asset class, crypto is clearly now very much on the radar of the traditional institutional investment community," Harkins, who is president of BIDS Trading,  told The Block. "It seems like every day there’s more evidence of that, and the massive increase in participation from the digital asset community in Wall Street Rides FAR is yet another example."

Disclaimer: The former CEO and majority shareholder of The Block has disclosed a series of loans from former FTX and Alameda founder Sam Bankman-Fried.

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