Goldman Sachs, one of the largest financial institutions in the United States, is set to start using its own funds to start trading Bitcoin futures on behalf of its clients, and hopes to eventually start trading actual Bitcoins in the future.
As reported by the New York Times, the move will make Goldman Sachs the first Wall Street bank to set up a Bitcoin trading operation. The financial institution has been rumored to have been planning the move since last December, but executives claimed the rumors were false.
Recently, the bank hired renowned cryptocurrency trader Justin Schmidt, which further hinted it was venturing into trading Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Nevertheless, at the time, the financial institution’s representatives claimed it hadn’t yet “reached a conclusion on the scope of our digital asset offering.”
The Times’ report now confirms it will even begin offering its clients a specific type of futures contract linked to Bitcoin, called a non-deliverable forward. Per Rana Yared, a Goldman Sachs executive who oversaw the trading platform’s creation, revealed most involved in the operation are still skeptical of cryptocurrencies. She was quoted as saying:
“I would not describe myself as a true believer who wakes up thinking Bitcoin will take over the world. For almost every person involved, there has been personal skepticism brought to the table.”
Goldman Sachs is launching the Bitcoin trading desk after the bank’s board of directors signed off the move. The exact date in which the operation will be launched isn’t yet set, but the Times pointed to “the next few weeks.”
Interest received from hedge funds, endowments, and other institutional investors fueled Goldman Sachs’ initiative. While the financial institution concluded the flagship cryptocurrency doesn’t have the characteristics of a currency, it also found it isn’t a fraud.
Some of the bank’s clients approached it, as they wanted to hold Bitcoin as a store of value. Yared stated:
“it resonates with us when a client says, “I want to hold Bitcoin or Bitcoin futures because I think it is an alternate store of value.”
In the future, Goldman Sachs hopes to receive regulatory approval from state-level authorities, including the Federal Reserve, to start trading actual Bitcoins, not just products linked to them. To do so, it’ll need to figure out how to actually manage cryptocurrency wallets, the New York Times adds.
The development would cement the cryptocurrency’s status as a mainstream financial asset. As for the risks of trading Bitcoin, an asset known for its volatility, Yared stated that “it is not a new risk that we don’t understand.” According to the executive, it’s a risk the bank needs to be “extra aware of.” Recently, Barclays chief executive officer Jes Staley revealed a cryptocurrency trading desk was off the table for the financial institution.