Crypto Bankruptcies Have Generated a Wave of New Accounting Clients for Armanino

Although bad news for the companies involved, bankruptcies, liquidations, and tokens going to zero have created myriad opportunities for accounting firms like Armanino.

The company, founded in 1969, started looking at providing services to crypto firms back in 2014, and has since built out an entire suite of products under the umbrella of its TrustExporer brand.

“The stuff that happened over the summer really was like what we’ve been planning for and trying to talk to people about,” Clayton Lowery, a senior blockchain manager, told Decrypt at the Chainlink SmartCon event in New York. “It took a couple years and, unfortunately, for a few bad things to happen. But that’s really what we’re seeing. We’re seeing so many people come in.”

He added that enthusiasm for stablecoins, initially dulled by algorithmic stablecoin TerraUSD wiping out $40 billion in May, seems to be returning. 

“Traditional finance is really starting to look at [stablecoins] as banks,” Lowery said.“Even community banks around the country, are exploring issuing their own stablecoin, all the way up to the biggest banks.” 

Lowery said he’s also “starting to see a lot more internationally, too, in Europe and England.”

Today, the firm counts some big names in crypto among its clients. Armanino used to be Coinbase’s auditor before the crypto exchange switched to Deloitte. The firm also piloted what’s now its Proof of Reserves software as a dashboard for stablecoin issuer TrueUSD. 

CoinShares, which has more than $2 billion assets under management as of this writing, has been using Armanino’s real-time attest software for its exchange-traded products since 2020. 

The attestations check a company’s account balances. For stablecoin issuers, that number then gets compared to how many tokens have been issued. And for lenders, like Nexo, it gets compared to a company’s liabilities. 

Lowery said one of the unofficial roles that he and the crypto team at Armanino perform has become educating clients on the difference between an audit and an attestation.

“There’s a big difference between the term audit and attest. Everyone uses ‘audit,’ and it’s kind of become a standard with the smart contract auditing on the code side,” Lowery said. “And so everyone throws around ‘audit.’”

In layman’s terms, an audit provides a much more in-depth examination of a company’s finances. Meanwhile, an attestation is a report performed by an independent firm using a procedure provided by the client.

A lot of larger crypto firms have stopped using the word “audit” for things that aren’t audits. Even so, stablecoin issuers Circle and Tether, the two largest by very wide margins, still differ in the terms they use for their reserve reports. 

In its August report, accounting firm Grant Thornton said Circle’s “assertion” of its reserves was “fairly stated.”  Tether’s latest reserve report, the first from BDO Italia since the company dropped MHA Cayman, says that the accounting firm found Tether’s statement of its reserves “fairly presented.”

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