Ailing Crypto Lender ‘Celsius’ Found to Have Double the Traditional Banking Risk

By Lauren Claxton July 01, 2022 In Banking, Celsius, Crypto News

With an alleged assets-to-equity ratio near double that of the average US bank in late 2021, crypto lender Celsius had taken on far more risk than it had previously publicly stated and is now seeking to file for bankruptcy.

CEO Plays Fast and Loose with the Truth

Celsius CEO Alex Mashinsky seems to have been omitting the truth from multiple past statements that his company was not “taking a tremendous risk”. This comes as The Wall Street Journal uncovers evidence illustrating that Celsius had effectively doubled the risk profile of the average American bank.

All North American banks in the S&P 1500 Composite index have a median assets-to-equity ratio of close to 9:1. Information uncovered by the WSJ found that Celsius had US$19 billion of assets and approximately US$1 billion of equity just before October 2021.

This wasn’t the only discovery. Investor documents detailed that Celsius had sold undercollateralised loans in the past, which required business borrowers to post approximately 50 percent collateral for their loans. It is alleged that Celsius then used the collateral from these loans to borrow more:


With industry regulators typically looking at the assets-to-equity ratio as an indicator of risk, economist Eric Budish from the University of Chicago has described the Celsius ratio as “a risky structure”. Budish also stated that “it strikes [me] as diversified in the same way that portfolios of mortgages were diversified in 2006 … it was all housing – here, it’s all crypto.”

In October 2021, Celsius had been offering retail investors the chance to earn yields of up to 18.6 percent on deposited crypto assets. The lender had initially projected that deposits would exceed US$108 billion in 2023. However, this year’s industry lows have hit Celsius hard, with the company now considering filing for bankruptcy.

Celsius’ Recent Raft of Troubles

June was a disappointing month for Celsius with its native token (CEL) falling nearly 70 percent following the June 13 announcement that it would pause all withdrawals to “stabilise liquidity”. However, prior to this declaration, it is rumoured that Celsius had quickly transferred US$320 million in crypto to the Bahamian exchange FTX.

This presumed one-way ticket to insolvency also encouraged crypto services business Nexo to come forward and offer to buy Celsius’ “qualifying” assets. Nexo was believed to be interested in Celsius’ collateralised loan portfolio, yet it has since been reported that no prices were disclosed.

Lauren Claxton

Lauren Claxton

Lauren is currently a freelance writer with experience in finance writing. She has a growing interest in the metaverse and all things NFTs and expects to graduate in 2022 with bachelors degrees in creative writing and public relations.

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