The president of Fidelity Investments’ brokerage businesses said this week that the Boston-based fund company is “definitely in the game” when it comes to cryptocurrency trading. Speaking during a question and answer session at CB Insights Future of Fintech confab, Fidelity’s Ram Subramaniam, head of Fidelity Brokerage Technology, said that cryptocurrency has been a “big topic” at Fidelity for the past couple of years, with the company doing a lot of experiments, learning and investments in the area.
Subramaniam noted that Fidelity has a team in its lab working on crypto. “It’s an ongoing process. A lot is going on,” said the executive during the presentation, which was covered by Yahoo Finance. Subramaniam pointed to Fidelity’s partnership with cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase in which its retail customers can link to their Coinbase account to buy and sell digital tokens as one example. Fidelity doesn’t offer direct trading of cryptocurrencies.
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While Fidelity has been focused on the cryptocurrency market for a couple of years now, Subramaniam said a few things need to come together over time for cryptocurrency to be adopted by the masses. He stressed that customers have to use it, as do institutions. There’s also a need for policies, technology and the ability to control processes as cryptocurrency scales. “There’s a lot of things that need to happen,” the Fidelity executive said, noting that, once both institutional and retail investors are in the market, it will grow. He asserted that this brings more liquidity and more access to the markets, similar to what happened with exchange-traded funds (ETFs).
Earlier this month, Business Insider reported that Fidelity is on the hunt for a new fund manager for a cryptocurrency fund that the company has in-house. Citing people familiar with the matter, Business Insider reported that key members of the cryptocurrency fund left the Boston-based fund company, and as a result, the fund is inactive for now. The internal cryptocurrency fund, according to the report, was launched in the fall and was bankrolled from Fidelity’s balance sheet. The idea is to invest in cryptocurrency assets. The investment vehicle, noted the report, was invested in digital tokens before the two senior members – Matt Walsh and Nic Carter – left the firm to start their own cryptocurrency-focused venture capital firm Castle Island Ventures. Their departure prompted Fidelity to search for replacements, Business Insider reported.
Meanwhile, Coin Telegraph, citing internal correspondence, reported that Fidelity is hiring developers for a cryptocurrency exchange. According to the report, executives at Fidelity notified employees that the company is seeking a DevOps system engineer “to help engineer, create and deploy a digital asset exchange to both a public and private cloud.” Another job posting said the company is looking to offer “first-in-class custodian services for bitcoin and other digital currencies.” Unlike some Wall Street players who have expressed skepticism about bitcoin, Fidelity’s chief executive Abigal Johnson has been a proponent for some time.