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What Triggered SVB Collapse? How and Why Silicon Valley Bank Failed

Silicon Valley Bank (SVB), one of the most prominent banks in the technology startup space, has recently collapsed, sending shockwaves throughout the industry. The bank, which had branches in both the United States and the United Kingdom, had gained a reputation for being a pioneer in supporting emerging companies, especially those in the fintech and cryptocurrency sectors. However, the sudden collapse has raised questions about the stability of the bank, and its impact on the broader financial industry. In this article, we will provide a complete timeline of events leading up to the collapse of SVB, and explore the implications it will have on the future of banking.

SVB collapse
SVB collapse

What Caused the Collapse?

SVB’s troubles started to emerge in late 2022 when rumors began to circulate about its financial stability. The bank was reportedly in talks with potential buyers to shore up its cash reserves, but no deal materialized. In January 2023, SVB announced that it had sold off some of its assets to raise funds, but this was not enough to cover the run on deposits, and the bank’s cash shortfall. As of its collapse on March 10, 2023, the bank’s shortfall was estimated to be around $5 billion.

The collapse of Silicon Valley Bank has been attributed to several factors:

  1. A key factor contributing to SVB’s collapse was its rapid growth. The bank’s assets grew from $50 billion in 2018 to $209 billion by the end of 2022. This rapid expansion put significant pressure on the bank’s management to find places to invest the influx of funds. To diversify its portfolio and generate higher returns, SVB invested heavily in the cryptocurrency space. While this investment initially paid off, it also made the bank more vulnerable to market volatility. As the value of cryptocurrencies began to fluctuate, the bank’s investment portfolio suffered.
  2. Another factor that contributed to SVB’s collapse was a run on deposits. As concerns about the bank’s financial stability grew, some of its startup clients withdrew their deposits to keep their own companies afloat. This, combined with a failure to secure additional funding, left the bank with insufficient cash reserves to continue operations.
  3. To fund the redemptions and shore up its cash reserves, SVB sold off a $21 billion bond portfolio mainly consisting of U.S. Treasuries. However, the yield on this portfolio was only 1.79%, far below the bank’s expectations and insufficient to meet its financial obligations. This left the bank with a significant shortfall in cash reserves, further contributing to its collapse.
  4. On March 11, 2023, the Bank of England announced that it was seeking a court order to place the U.K. arm of Silicon Valley Bank into an insolvency procedure. This move followed the collapse of SVB’s parent company in the United States, which had been seized by regulators due to concerns about its financial stability.

The bank’s rapid expansion, coupled with its heavy investment in the cryptocurrency space, made it vulnerable to market volatility. This, combined with a run on deposits and a failure to secure additional funding, ultimately led to the bank’s demise.

What Does This Mean for the Near Future?

The collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, which federal regulators seized on March 10, 2023, is a major event that will likely have significant implications for the financial system and the technology industry in the near future. SVB’s sudden collapse has raised concerns about the stability of the broader financial system.

  • One immediate consequence of the SVB collapse is that the bank’s clients, startups, and venture capitalists have been left in a difficult position. The fallout from the collapse has resulted in a decline in deposits, from $189 billion at the end of 2021 to $173 billion at the end of 2022, as clients are forced to move their funds to other banks. This has put significant pressure on other banks that serve the tech industry, as they will likely have to absorb some of SVB’s former clients.
  • As a consequence of the SVB collapse, some of the bank’s clients have had their money frozen, and there has been no information on when they will regain access to their money. However, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) has announced that all insured depositors will have full access to their insured deposits by March 13, 2023, and uninsured depositors will receive an advance dividend within the next week.
  • Another consequence of the SVB collapse is that it could lead to a broader tightening of credit for the technology industry. SVB was one of the largest lenders to fail since the 2008 financial crisis, and its collapse could signal to other lenders that the tech industry is a riskier bet than they had previously thought. This could make it more difficult for startups and other tech companies to secure funding, slowing down innovation and growth in the industry.

What Implications Will There be for Crypto and Financial Space?

One of the most significant implications of the SVB collapse for the crypto space is the potential for contagion. Many crypto companies have already signalled their exposure to SVB, one of the world’s most prominent lenders to tech startups. This exposure has raised concerns about the stability of the crypto industry, which is already grappling with its own challenges.

Another implication is the potential for a regulatory crackdown on the crypto industry. SVB was known for its relationships with high-flying world technology startups and venture capital, and its collapse may prompt regulators to take a closer look at the practices of these companies. Additionally, the collapse may fuel calls for greater regulation of stablecoins, which have become increasingly popular in the crypto space but have also raised concerns about their stability and regulation.

Moreover, the broader financial industry may be affected. SVB was a well-respected and tech-friendly lender, and its collapse may erode confidence in the startup and venture capital space. The collapse may also prompt other investors to reassess their exposure to risky assets, including cryptocurrencies.

Thus, the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank is a significant event with implications for both the broader financial industry and the crypto space. It remains to be seen how the fallout from SVB’s collapse will play out, but it is clear that the event has already had a significant impact on the financial landscape.

FAQ

Will customers get their money back from SVB?

According to a joint statement by the FDIC, the Fed, and the Department of Treasury, Silicon Valley Bank (SVB), customers will get access to “all of their money” from Monday. However, it is important to note that the FDIC insures deposits up to $250,000, so customers who deposited less than $250,000 will likely get their money back in full. In contrast, those who deposited more may only receive a partial payment. The statement also mentioned that the taxpayers would not bear any losses related to the resolution of SVB, and that the U.S. banking system remains strong and stable.

Will this affect interest rates?

The collapse of SVB is not expected to impact interest rates at this time significantly. However, it is a reminder of the risks associated with investing in longer-term securities in a rising interest rate environment. It also highlights the importance of diversifying investments and managing interest-rate risk to prevent similar collapses in the future. In the short term, the Federal Reserve will likely continue its plan to raise interest rates to combat inflation. Still, the situation will be closely monitored for any potential impact on the financial system.

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Nakul Shah
Nakul Shah - DLT Expert and Project Manager
53 Articles

Nakul Shah is a technology enthusiast, blockchain/AI consultant, author, and writer, passionate about innovative solutions. He is a regular speaker at conferences across the globe on blockchain, DLT, and fintech. Nakul specializes in writing content for fintech, gaming, emerging technology, and eCommerce sectors, and offer consultancy, training, and editorial services to clients across the globe. He is also a contributor to various publications, and has authored over 1000 articles, 100+ case studies, 75+ white papers, and a book on Blockchain titled “Blockchain for Business with Hyperledger Fabric.”

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Reviewed and Fact Checked by Maryam Jinadu , Fintech and Crypto Writer