Fidelity Investments has launched a new business to allow its institutional clients to trade in digital currencies such as bitcoin, a press release reveals. Known as Fidelity Digital Asset Services, LLC, the company will purchase and sell cryptocurrencies for family offices, hedge funds and other monetary ventures.
All coins will be sourced from large, over-the-counter digital exchanges and housed using cold storage to ensure customer funds always remain safe. To start, Fidelity’s services will be limited to bitcoin and ether, though representatives say they’re looking to expand their offerings in 2019.
“Our goal is to make digitally native assets, such as bitcoin, much more accessible to investors,” chairman and chief executive of Fidelity, Abigail Johnson, said in a statement.
Volatility in crypto prices, along with the lack of custody and other banking services witnessed in the digital currency space, is a point of concern for institutional investors, one that has prevented many of them from feeling comfortable enough to take part in the cryptocurrency space. Fidelity is hoping to change all that by allowing trades and sales in a more traditional, regulated environment and boosting the market maturity of both bitcoin and ether.
Fidelity Digital Assets already has 100 employees on its roster, and it will be headed by Tom Jessop, managing director at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and former president of the tech startup Chain.
“We started exploring blockchain and digital assets several years ago, and these efforts have been successful in helping us understand and advance our thinking around cryptocurrencies. The creation of Fidelity Digital Assets is the first step in a long-term vision to create a full-service enterprise-grade platform for digital assets,” Jessop stated in the press release.
The company is one of the largest asset management firms in the world, managing just under $7 trillion in combined customer assets. It also serves over 13,000 separate institutions.
Last year, Fidelity began allowing its retail clients to view their holdings of bitcoin and other digital currencies hosted on Coinbase’s website. It was also alleged to be testing blockchain technology internally.
This is not the first time a large, traditional investment platform has entered the crypto arena. In August 2018, the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), software king Microsoft and coffee giant Starbucks partnered to form what is known as Bakkt, a platform designed for allowing customers to sell, buy and trade cryptocurrencies in a formal and regulated environment. The venture is expected to make its official introduction in November 2018.
Bakkt is hoping to make cryptocurrencies more usable and plans to issue physical, one-day bitcoin futures contracts that, once expired, will reward their users with bitcoin rather than cash. The organization is currently awaiting approval from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).