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Fidelity began to bring on clients in the first quarter and is now reportedly engaged in a full launch of digital assets custody and trading services.
As promised, Bitcoin custodian Fidelity Digital Asset Services (FDAS) is “now engaged in a full rollout” of its custody and trading services, spreading from the limited trial users in the platform’s final test stage.
Financial Times reported that by building up its crypto custody business, the focus of the company is to profit from the shortage of classically and traditionally regulated institutions as are banks and other more conservative custodians.
Investment group’s CEO Abigail Johnson said that this is a high aim regarding that each day there are more and more new digital assets created.
Boston-based Fidelity has $2.8 trillion of assets under management and the launch of Fidelity Digital Assets was announced already in autumn last year with a promise of “enterprise-quality custody and trade execution services” for hedge funds, family offices and financial advisers dabbling in cryptocurrencies.
The company started filling its client portfolio at the beginning of the first quarter and now is fully engaged.
“If you’re either interested or technically adept, then it’s not really that big of a deal, but compared to everything else that you do in terms of financial relationships that you have with either a bank or a brokerage firm . . . it’s just more nascent. It’s just not developed.”
Johnson positioned herself as a CEO back in 2014, and she says that in her opinion, Fidelity cryptocurrency custody service should be “one big selling point, pointing to stories of thumb drives lost and holders passing away without sharing their digital keys with relatives.”
“There are people out there with significant amounts of wealth in cryptocurrencies, probably Bitcoin, and they’re looking for somebody to hold those coins for them because in the event of their passing — which is going to happen at some point or another — you’ve got to have a plan to be able to get those coins to somebody else,” added she.
Johnson took cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase that has billions of dollars worth of digital assets stored for its customers for an example. Last year it founded its own custody business for third parties.
However, as per Johnson’s words, “Coinbase is still a company that most people had never heard of, and they don’t have the existing relationships with the independent advisers.”
From Fidelity Digital Assets they said the company filed an application to operate as a limited-purpose trust company with the New York State Department of Financial Services, that enables it to serve an even wider set of institutions.
Johnson admits that, at first, Fidelity’s experiments in cryptocurrencies and blockchain were “just for fun”. However, afterward, the company started to explore some other options including setting up a small Bitcoin mining operation back in 2014 that cost $200,000.
Johnson says that some people in the finance department were laughing at them at times, but eventually, Fidelity settled on custody as the optimal base and got the support that was counted in a number of requests from existing financial adviser clients who now wanted to use the company’s infrastructure for their customers’ crypto investments.
Even though there is still a lot of skepticism on cryptocurrencies, Johnson says that there is a pretty profitable business to be done in this sector.
“It’s not going away. As long as the value is there, people will look to preserve that value,” said the CEO.