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Onramp Invest to Beta-Test Its Crypto Platform This Month

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What You Need to Know

  • The Onramp Invest platform will go live in the first three days of the online Consensus 2021 conference in May.
  • Initial partnerships include WisdomTree and the FPA, Onramp CEO Tyrone Ross says.
  • Onramp wants to be an all-in-one solution providing RIAs with every tool they need to deal with crypto.

The Onramp Invest alternative investment platform geared to RIAs will start a beta test this month and then go live at the online Consensus 2021 conference to be held May 24-27, Tyrone Ross, the company’s CEO, said in a Twitter video presentation on Thursday.

“Pretty big names” among RIA firms will be included in the group of five to 10 companies taking part in the beta test, he told ThinkAdvisor on Friday, adding that he expects it to start in mid-April.

The platform will then go live for more RIAs on one of the first three days of Consensus, he said. Initial RIAs taking part in the beta and full launch will be selected from a waiting list, he said.

Ross had told ThinkAdvisor in March that Onramp would likely debut in May.

At the Twitter event, he said Onramp was in talks with several companies to partner with his platform, including WisdomTree.

“Onramp will have a major announcement” when it goes live and is lining up “some monster announcements” during Consensus, he said.

“We will be providing content with WisdomTree for financial advisors” and are also “having discussions with WisdomTree now to build out some model portfolios for financial advisors with some really cool allocations with Bitcoin and Ether,” the native cryptocurrency of the Ethereum open-source blockchain, he said.

“We are working closely with them to get this done within the next month or so,” he said.

WisdomTree did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.

More Partnership Details

Onramp is also partnering with the Financial Planning Association to provide content and education for financial advisors, Ross said.

FPA spokesman Ben Lewis confirmed that on Friday, telling ThinkAdvisor: “Tyrone is working with us this year on our Annual Trends in Investing survey that will come out in June. He is providing expert input on the crypto data we are collecting. Tyrone is also speaking at our annual NexGen Gathering event later in the summer on a different topic.”

Onramp will also create advisor content with CF Benchmarks, Ross said on Thursday. RIAs need real-time data available “right from your existing workflow” and “we’re working on that,” he said.

Onramp is also in talks with a portfolio management provider, a CRM provider and a financial planning software provider, Ross said, identifying them only as three “big ones.”

Integrations with software and fintech firms are key to getting inside advisors’ workflow, like “getting into Fort Knox,” which is a goal of Onramp, he explained.

Altruist users, meanwhile, “will get Onramp at some point,” he also told viewers. Ross worked for the brokerage platform as director of community in 2020.

Onramp is also having “very robust” conversations with Gemini and in talks with Coinbase, he said, referring to two major crypto exchange platforms.

“We are working with [Gemini] to “make the account opening process seamless, like opening a box of saltines,” he joked, for anybody using that platform for custody, he said.

Also important to achieve is a read-only view — for an advisor to be able to see a client’s accounts that are held away at the Gemini and Coinbase crypto exchange platforms — and Onramp is “working on some others,” he said. Onramp is also “having some other conversations with Coinbase … about some other things,” he said without elaborating.

That read-only view will also be pulled into portfolio management software, where users will then be “able to start the process” of trading cryptocurrency, he said. He did not identify the company it’s partnering with for that, but predicted it will create a “tectonic shift” in this business.

CF Benchmarks, Altruist, Gemini and Coinbase did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday.

Onramp’s Goals

“Some of the largest RIAs in this country do not have the tools to make” crypto “available to their clients in the way that they want to, while the wirehouse advisors” like Morgan Stanley, which recently announced it was giving some clients access to Bitcoin funds, “get it all,” he said. “We’re going to help with that,” he promised RIAs.

Onramp is trying to “carve our own lane” in a space that “needs to be built out,” he explained. “The ecosystem needs to be built out for advisors and they should have choice of where it is that they want to go and run their practice.”

Onramp wants to be an “all-in-one solution” that provides advisors with “every tool that they need,” including insurance, he said, offering a metaphor to explain what the company is out to do: “Everyone is building hotels. Onramp is the interstate” because “you need to be able to get to” those hotels, he said.

“We are technology. We are resources. We are education. We are research. We are an all-in-one solution for RIAs to walk into this new asset class in a compliant and regulatory manner,” he further explained. Among other things, it is solving the issues raised with crypto by the Securities and Exchange Commission, he said.

RIA firms that collectively manage $2 billion in assets signed up to be on Onramp’s waiting list on Thursday, and the company is now “approaching $300 billion” of AUM among RIAs on that waiting list, he said.

Also among Onramp’s plans is a white glove service in which his company will do a mock exam for advisors and their firms so “you are prepared from the top down” to deal with crypto and blockchain, Ross said.

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