Goldman Sachs is exploring the possibility of launching a new trading operation focused on cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin, in response to what a company spokesperson described as “client interest in digital currencies.” Unnamed sources for a Wall Street Journal article on the subject explained that the inquiry is in its cursory stages and may not ultimately bear fruit.
Both the bank’s currency-trading division and strategic investment group are participating in the explorations, according to the same sources.
These revelations are not the first sign of Goldman’s interest in cryptocurrency. The firm’s website features a page summarizing the fundamentals of blockchain technology for the uninitiated, and earlier this year, it became the first Wall Street bank to issue a report on the price of bitcoin. Additionally, during a Q&A session this past August, Goldman staff reportedly said of cryptocurrency, “real dollars are at work here and warrant watching especially in light of the growing world of initial coin offerings (ICOs) and fundraising that now exceeds Internet Angel and Seed investing.”
Matthew Goetz, a former Goldman Sacks vice president and current CEO of cryptocurrency investment firm BlockTower Capital, has remarked that “I think it behooves the smart and more forward-thinking firms to be involved in cryptocurrency given the number of new services and business lines that will stem from it as this important new industry continues to build and institutionalize.”
An August 2017 study by Autonomous NEXT identified 75 hedge funds that are investing in cryptocurrencies.
This crypto fervor exists alongside a considerable level skepticism in the industry, exemplified most visibly by JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon who notoriously referred to bitcoin as a “fraud” and threatened to fire any employee caught trading the currency.