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Wall Street Giants Delay Institutional Crypto Investments

Wall Street Giants Delay Institutional Crypto Investments

A columnist from Bloomberg delved into the not-so-noticeable limbo-state of Wall Street giants in regards to cryptocurrency investments as a result of what seems to be a rout in 2018. Captioned “Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and many more built it. But they didn’t come”, the column went on to highlight the simplicity of the stall by Wall Street giants towards their premature acceptance of cryptocurrencies due to the earlier 2017/2018 Bitcoin bull run.

The article describes the current stance of these institutions as “limbo”. Actions that were made by these financial giants on Wall Street who were willing to explore the business potentials of the crypto frenzy, Bitcoin especially, are now static for most while only a few are still developing trading infrastructures.

These Wall Street market makers’ interest in Bitcoin was seen as a sign that heralded mainstream crypto adoption at least for traditional and sophisticated investors. However, CEO of New York-based SolidX Partners Daniel H Gallancy has said that “the market had unrealistic expectations that Goldman or any of its peers could suddenly start a Bitcoin trading business”, adding that it “was top-of-the-market-hype thinking”.

According to the article, people close to the crypto developments within Goldman Sachs reportedly stated that “progress has been so slow as to be barely noticeable”, though a full year has gone by since all the hype reached its full peak. The source further reports that many in the industry now think it was “quixotic to have expected last year’s frenzy to translate into a Wall Street crypto offering”.

Although Goldman seemed to draw more attention as it was among the first to clear Bitcoin futures and its aligned sentiments with the prospects of cryptocurrency has been well known in the industry, still, the long-awaited developments are yet to bear fruit as some would expect.

The bank has yet to offer trading of crypto services and has gained little traction for its NDF product, having signed up just 20 clients, despite efforts towards investing in custodian BitGo Holdings In. that was supposed to be its custody service arm.

Justin Schmidt, an executive with the firm blamed the current stalemate on regulators position on crypto assets.
Other financial groups that were discussed included Morgan Stanley, which seemly had a good thing going when they hired alleged crypto expert Andrew Peel. They later announced in September that they were ready to offer swaps tracking Bitcoin futures but have since then not traded a single contract, according to a person familiar with the matter, reports Bloomberg.

Citigroup and Barclays have been drawn into similar conclusions of silence, with two employees of Barclays, Chris Tyrer and Matthieu Jobbe Duval, who headed the digital asset project leaving the project. Barclays currently has no plans for a crypto trading desk, and Citigroup Inc has not traded any of the products it designed for cryptocurrencies within existing regulatory structures, the source said.

However, sentiments about the move of institutional investments into crypto in 2019 are still strong and most are simply waiting for regulatory clarity before joining the wagon. Meanwhile, “proper foundations” as a result of the bear market trends are considered to be an appropriate response from many institutions in order to avoid building “infrastructure without adequate testing for fear of missing out on a gold rush” suggests Eugene Ng, a former Deutsche Bank AG trader in Singapore.


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Analyst Predicts Future of Bitcoin Trading on Wall Street

As cryptocurrencies become more widely accepted by mainstream financial institutions, former Goldman Sachs Investment banker Matt Levine predicts that the future of tradings will be on Wall Street alongside the stock exchange.

With a growing number of investors entering the cryptocurrency market with large sums of capital, banks are beginning to see the economic benefit of facilitating their investments. One of the largest banks in the UK, Barclays Plc has just taken the cue from Goldman Sachs, now offering a Bitcoin trading desk.

The trading desks are designed to help clients make the most beneficial exchanges, while only dealing with cryptocurrencies that comply with all necessary regulations. The banks offer a range of services for their clients, including lending, brokering deals, market-making, custody of finances and market research.

As Levine frames it, the more these services in the cryptocurrency market become critical to clientele, the more banks are expected to provide these services. Hedge funds managing cryptocurrency assets have become increasingly common, requiring banks to handle trades, prime brokers, and serve as custodians.

The biggest issue for banks right now is a lack of clear regulation, as they are strictly prohibited from providing any unregulated services.

Levine has said that banks may be inclined to domesticate cryptocurrency should the demand from clients be high enough. He noted that this trajectory may well be viewed unfavorably by who he describes as ”cryptocurrency true believers”, recognizing that many have adopted cryptocurrencies as a rejection of the traditional financial system.

“[They] may be disappointed if cryptocurrency trading ends up being dominated by the likes of Barclays and Goldman Sachs,” said Levine.

Bitcoin futures contracts have promoted easier entry into the market for fund managers, allowing investors to hedge Bitcoin exposure, or harness its performance with a futures product. Platforms such as CME offer what they describe as a ”cost-effective way to trade financial and commodity markets”.

Whether digital currencies will be fully adopted by big banks is still up for debate, as is how the cryptocurrency community will accept this. The market cap for digital currencies currently stands at around USD 330 billion, a number that Wall Street is surely watching.


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