Blythe Masters declined to run Barclays’ investment bank division to stay at Digital Asset Holdings, a blockchain startup facilitating derivatives trading. The bank’s chief executive Jes Staley offered his former JP Morgan colleague to take the position of the investment unit’s head in 2016, Reuters reported.
But former JPMorgan Chase & Co. commodities chief Masters rebuffed an offer, saying she is now fully committed to running her company. She started her job as a head of Digital Asset Holdings in March.
“I can’t think of a better person than Jes Staley, nor a more venerable institution than Barclays, but I am in mid-flight at Digital Asset and fully committed to what we are doing,” Masters said.
A Barclays spokeswoman, Kerrie Cohen, declined to comment.
Staley took his top position at Barclays a few days ago and now has to change the investment bank’s strategy in order to raise its profits. He worked with Masters during his previous job as a head of JPMorgan’s corporate and investment bank.
Born in Britain, Masters began her career at JP Morgan as an intern. She was the chairman of JP Morgan’s investment bank from 2004 to 2007 before moving to operate the commodities business, which turned into one of the major players in the industry.
Blythe Masters had been working at JPMorgan for 27 years, until leaving the bank last year. In the 1990s, she was at the forefront of credit derivatives development and was the most prominent woman on Wall Street.
Her current startup, Digital Asset Holdings, is developing software that will allow banks and other market players to use the blockchain technology to change the way they trade financial assets. Launched in March 2015, the company was designed to connect buyers and sellers of bonds, loans and other assets.
Meantime, her former husband Daniel Masters is also involved in the cryptocurrency industry. This summer he launched Global Advisors Bitcoin Investment Fund that allows investors to use the virtual currency.
The bank, which has changed its strategy several times over the last years, is now concentrated on its UK and US markets. Moreover, it has already cut thousands of jobs in order to reduce costs.
Masters is known for her support of digital currencies. She is convinced bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies hold huge potential. Speaking at the American Banker’s conference in July, she said every type of financial asset “could be handled the same way as bitcoin handles transactions”. Still, she noted the industry will have to address regulatory and security issues in upcoming years, adding it’s early to talk about the great blockchain future.