Goldman Sachs Is Said to Add Cryptocurrency Trading Desk—Sort of

May 3, 2018, 12:39 AM UTC

Don’t call Goldman Sachs’s long-awaited Bitcoin-trading business a full-fledged desk, and don’t expect it to buy and sell Bitcoins, at least at first.

The bank, preparing to pioneer a new cryptocurrency market on Wall Street, plans to start small and offer a limited number of derivatives, according to a person briefed on the decisions. It will trade Bitcoin futures in a principal, market-making capacity and will also create non-deliverable forward products.

Wall Street firms began offering clients futures from Cboe Global Markets and CME Group in December. But one issue with buying and selling actual Bitcoins is that they can be stolen by hackers. That means any bank looking to facilitate those transactions will have to figure out how to guard such assets, a step that could require a nod from regulators.

Goldman Sachs already hired Justin Schmidt as head of digital asset markets to help clients gain exposure to cryptocurrencies. At least preliminarily, he will sit on the firm’s currency desk, the person said, asking not to be identified discussing internal plans.

The New York Times reported the bank’s decision to offer forward products earlier Thursday, noting that the business will start in the next few weeks. That means Goldman’s project is on track: People familiar with the bank’s plans said late last year that firm aimed to have its new business running by the end of June.