Wall Street is Backing Out of Crypto

Jimmy Aki @adejimi
December 25, 2018 20:40 UTC

Wall Street is quietly moving out of the crypto market, Bloomberg reports. While the market has continued to be battered by news of fraud and imminent regulatory crackdowns, there was a time when it seemed like Wall Street had started to warm up to the rise of crypto assets.

Last year, when the crypto industry enjoyed what was probably the biggest bull run in its history, it seemed a lot of mainstream financial companies were also ready to join the bandwagon. Names like Goldman Sachs, Fidelity Investments and Barclays Bank Plc. were all affiliated with reports to open cryptocurrency divisions, and these speculations sent ripples around the financial industry.

Goldman Sachs’ Trading Desk Dreams

Goldman Sachs was one of the first Wall Street firms to show interest in Bitcoin futures, and rumors claimed that the firm was working on developing a seperate crypto trading desk. The investment bank partnered with Galaxy Digital and led a $57 million series B investment in custodian firm BitGo Holdings Inc., in a bid to offer custody services. Fast-forward to a year later, and Goldman is yet to offer crypto trading. The bank’s Bitcoin derivative product has not made much progress since it launched.

Citigroup Inc.- Digital Asset Receipts

New York-based Citigroup Inc. also reportedly developed a crypto-based product that could help asset management firms and hedge funds reduce the risk they get exposed to when they invest in crypto. The product, known as Digital Asset Receipt, was expected to provide crypto investors with an innovative means of keeping tabs on their investments and offer an additional layer of legitimacy and trust to the fledgling asset class.

Barclays Inc. and Its Crypto Trading Desk

Then we have London-based Barclays Inc. The British bank showed a massive interest in crypto during the boom, hiring energy traders Chris Tyrer and Matthieu Jobbe Duval to help lead its digital assets division. Both were hired to help look into avenues where the bank could make a foray into the crypto world and provide recommendations, especially as rumors swirled that it was considering developing a crypto trading desk of its own. Sadly, Tyrer ended up leaving earlier this year, while Duval remains with the firm. In addition to Tyrer quitting, Barclays also denied any rumors of the crypto trading desk.

So What Happened?

According to the report, there are two reasons for the quiet withdrawal of Wall Street in the market; the downturn in the market and a lack of a regulatory framework on cryptocurrencies. The first reason is relatively simple. 2018 has been a wild ride for the crypto market, with about $700 billion being wiped off. Crypto-based firms are feeling the brunt of this bear market, with news of retrenchments, companies folding up and manufacturers of mining rigs losing profits by the day.  On regulation, it is believed that the continued lack of a specific regulatory framework on cryptocurrencies has continued to deter big names in the financial industry from taking the plunge into the sector.

Hopefully, 2019 will see a rejuvenation in the crypto industry, as well as the introduction of clearer crypto regulations.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

Last modified: December 25, 2018 17:15 UTC

Jimmy Aki @adejimi

Jimmy has been following the development of blockchain for several years, and he is optimistic about its potential to democratize the financial system.