Early Coinbase employee and head of institution products Adam White has joined Intercontinental Exchange’s (ICE) cryptocurrency platform Bakkt as its chief operating officer, per the company’s announcement on Medium.
The news of White’s departure from the firm was first released on Bloomberg. White was Coinbase’s fifth employee, and he joined in 2013 when the founders were working from home and Bitcoin was trading around $200, per the report.
He served as the digital asset platform’s vice president and general manager of its institutional business, where he led the team that rolled out a series of products targeted at institutional clients. These products include the recent custodial services and an Index Fund, which is open to investments from U.S. accredited investors with a net worth of more than $1 million or an annual salary of more than $200,000 – who invest between $250,000 and $20 million.
Coinbase has also made some high profile hires in the past month. The crypto exchange brought in Charles Schwab to its board, Amazon Web Services former general manager Tim Wagner was hired as vice president of engineering and Fannie Mae’s former General Counsel Brian Brooks, who is the new Chief Legal Officer.
White will now team up with Kelly Loeffler and the rest of the Bakkt team on the platforms’ vision to “create a transformational digital asset ecosystem.” Bakkt is a product from ICE, the parent company of the New York Stock Exchange.
Speaking with Fortune in an interview, White said he switched sides because Wall Street was ready to sell digital assets to the masses but the infrastructure is currently lacking on the existing digital asset platforms.
“The interest in Bitcoin and other currencies started changing from retail to the institutional side. But the level of infrastructure of the existing trading sites often didn’t meet their expectations. That’s why they’re waiting on the sidelines.”
This move is a statement of intent from the Old School finance (ICE) which intends to transform cryptocurrencies into digital tokens that are more liquid and can be traded on regulated exchanges globally. Up until now, cryptocurrency trading has been dominated by exchanges that focus primarily on retail investors.
The launch of Bakkt is expected to move institutional traders, many of whom are still sitting on the fence, where crypto is concerned. The platform has an edge over popular exchanges like Coinbase, as it promises trading on a federally regulated exchange, as well as clearing and custody services for cryptos with the safeguards similar to what is applicable on physical stock exchanges.
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