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Goldman Sachs Isn’t Launching a Bitcoin Trading Desk (Because It Already Owns One)

Last Updated March 4, 2021 5:04 PM
Josiah Wilmoth
Last Updated March 4, 2021 5:04 PM

Recently, Goldman Sachs chief executive Lloyd Blankfein shot down longstanding rumors that the investment bank was launching a cryptocurrency trading desk.

Now, we know the reason why: the bank already owns one.

Goldman Sachs ‘Not’ Launching Bitcoin Trading Desk

As early as October last year, there were rumors that Goldman Sachs was considering opening the first major Wall Street cryptocurrency trading desk.

By the end of the year, sources familiar with the matter were saying that the firm had already begun hiring personnel to staff the trading desk , which would be operated out of New York.

However, Blankfein rebuffed those reports during an interview with CNBC  at the World Economic Forum, which was held in Davos earlier this month.

“What we said was we were opening – we, we’re clearing futures in bitcoins for some of our futures clients. We’d clear them. We’re a prime broker and so if our clients are going to do it, we’re going to do it,” he said. “A principle bitcoin business where we’re going long and short, market making, so far we’re not[.]”

What he didn’t say is that Goldman Sachs already owns a cryptocurrency trading desk — in fact, it has since 2015.

Goldman’s Hidden Cryptocurrency Trading Stake

Okay, strictly speaking, it’s not a Goldman Sachs trading desk, and the bank isn’t a majority stakeholder in the venture, but as Quartz  pointed out this week, Goldman Sachs was the lead investor in Circle’s 2015 funding round, which raised $50 million for the fintech startup.

In addition to its flagship Circle Pay service, the company also operates Circle Trade, which provides liquidity for cryptocurrency exchange markets and also manages over-the-counter (OTC) trading for large institutional clients seeking to place minimum orders of $250,000. According to the company’s website, it directly trades $2 billion worth of cryptocurrencies per month, making it one of the larger crypto-focused trading operations.

The firm’s next eponymous service will further expand the firm’s cryptocurrency-related offerings — and Goldman Sachs’ exposure to the nascent industry that Blankfein has called “a vehicle to perpetrate fraud.” Slated to launch in March, Circle Invest will provide retail investors with access to a commission-free cryptocurrency trading.

Featured image from Shutterstock.