Goldman Sachs still denies it’s launching a cryptocurrency trading desk, but that may not be true for much longer.
Finance industry news site Tearsheet reports that the firm recently hired former securities trader Justin Schmidt — formerly a senior vice president at Seven Eight Capital — to become the investment bank’s first head of digital asset markets.
Citing sources familiar with Schmidt’s hiring, Business Insider says that he will not trade anything at Goldman Sachs — cryptocurrencies or otherwise — though he will explore ways that the bank can make a deeper foray into cryptoassets. At present, the bank’s brokerage arm clears bitcoin futures for clients, though it does not trade them directly.
Despite hiring Schmidt, Goldman claims that it still has no plans to launch a cryptocurrency trading desk, which would allow institutional clients to make large trades over-the-counter (OTC) — where they will not have a major effect on the cryptocurrency’s price — rather than through a conventional exchange.
“In response to client interest in various digital products, we are exploring how best to serve them in the space,” Goldman Sachs spokeswoman Tiffany Galvin-Cohen said in a statement. “At this point, we have not reached a conclusion on the scope of our digital asset offering.”
Bloomberg first reported in December that Goldman was quietly assembling a cryptocurrency trading operation, though the bank — and CEO Lloyd Blankfein — have denied on multiple occasions that this is the case. Sources told the publication that the bank intended to have the desk up and running by the end of June, though this timeline now appears to be in question.
While a variety of OTC cryptocurrency trading desks currently serve institutional clients — including one managed by Circle, a company that has received financial backing from Goldman — none are operated by a major US bank.
Barclays, one of Europe’s largest banks, is currently holding preliminary discussions about launching a cryptocurrency trading operation, though it has not yet decided whether it will proceed with these plans.
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