Financial services giant Fidelity is making tremendous progress into the world of cryptocurrency. The 72-year-old firm announced on Monday, it will be launching a separate company, named Fidelity Digital Asset Services. The new company will handle cryptocurrency custody and trade execution for institutional investors.
“Our goal is to make digitally native assets, such as bitcoin, more accessible to investors,” Fidelity Investments Chairman and CEO Abigail Johnson said. “We expect to continue investing and experimenting, over the long-term, with ways to make this emerging asset class easier for our clients to understand and use.”
Head of Fidelity Digital Assets Tom Jessop said the company’s ideas of commercializing a standalone crypto company started in the middle of last year. Fidelity Digital Asset’s services are currently only available to institutions, including hedge funds, endowments and family offices, while the retail investor is unavailable.
“We saw that there were certain things institutions needed that only a firm like Fidelity could provide,” Jessop told CNBC, adding that it already works with 13,000 institutional clients. “We’ve got some technology that we’ve repurposed from other parts of Fidelity — we can leverage all of the resources of a big organization.”
Fidelity is quite large and administers $7.2 trillion in customer assets, has 27 million customers, and spends $2.5 billion per year on technology. With its new company, it will be responsible for handling custody, or how to cautiously store digital assets.
“You might look at the crypto world and say, ‘Wow, is this a new thing?’ but we’ve been managing key materials for a long time,” Jessop said. “We took our learnings in how to run enterprise security, then through our exploration of bitcoin and some of the people we’ve hired, quickly developed some of the crypto native expertise and federated the two of those things.”
Other crypto companies such as Coinbase, Gemini (run by the Winklevoss twins), BitGo, Ledger and ItBit are also working towards similar solutions, while Japanese bank Nomura also announced plans in May to offer crypto custody.