Reading Between the Lines of Fidelity’s Digital Assets Glossary
11.21.2018

In this frigid crypto winter, there’s a hearth in front of which we can still warm our constantly-clicking-back-to-CoinMarketCap fingers. That hearth belongs to Fidelity, a financial-services company that launched a crypto asset-management division last month.

While many lament the loss of their wealth thanks to crypto’s tumbling prices, Fidelity remains a stalwart supporter of these digital currencies. Having just launched a new division dedicated to them, it doesn’t really have a choice. But, if you believe in the astute observations of Redditors, Fidelity seems to be doubling down. In fact, the company may be sending cryptocurrency holders a tacit but important message.

One day ago, Reddit user Saigunx posted to r/cryptocurrency, “So Fidelity added a definition for HODL on their Digital Assets site LOL.” The definition is as follows:

What began as a typing error on a Bitcoin forum in 2013 has become a beloved rally cry for long-time bitcoiners. It expresses the belief that long-term value is better obtained by holding a digital asset rather than actively trading it. Don’t rush to correct someone when you see this term; instead, ask them to tell you the story.

Complete with a quaint suggestion to bond with more experienced crypto traders, this definition isn’t wrong. Reddit users’ reactions varied, one writing, “This is bad for crypto,” while another suggested this indicated Fidelity is “not messing around.” The poster even added, “Hopefully they’ll make things happen.”

If Fidelity did indeed add the definition right at the apex (so far) of this crypto winter’s biggest blizzard, is the company trying to tell cryptocurrency holders something? Is it whispering in the ears of “digital asset” investors, “Hodl; hodl in spite of those sad, downward graphs; hodl even though ether’s market cap is down to $13 billion from $133 billion earlier this year; hodl as Twitter fills with sad, angry tales of money lost and ‘gambling fuckwits.’” Hodl because it’s our company’s job to help you hodl. Or maybe, like the contrarian magazine cover indicator, this is another clear sign that crypto investors should run, not walk, to the exits before they lose it all.

Maybe I’m reading into Saigunx’s post too literally—Fidelity could have included “hodl” in its glossary at any point in time. (BREAKER reached out to Fidelity but hasn’t received a response.) After all, whether you’re a crypto noob or a crypto newb, you’ll likely come across the term “hodl” at some point and wonder what it means. Fidelity is simply here to help.

Other terms in Fidelity’s Digital Assets Glossary include “block height,” “Elliptical Curve Cryptography,” and “SegWit.” It even distinguishes between Bitcoin (the platform) and bitcoin (the digital “coin”), and between a Satoshi (the smallest denomination of a bitcoin) and Satoshi Nakamoto (author of the original Bitcoin white paper). Its definitions are at once nuanced, easy to understand, and accurate—at least to the point that anyone newly buying cryptocurrencies would require.

While it’s reassuring to see a traditional financial institution exhibit a thorough understanding of cryptocurrency, the flip side is that it’s in Fidelity Digital Assets’s best interests to keep their crypto buyers “hodling” and placate holders with a lot of crypto to lose.