Cryptocurrency enthusiasts have been eagerly waiting for Goldman Sachs to make a formal move concerning the company’s plans of integrating bitcoin derivatives. The news had been stirring since October 2017 when the Wall Street Journal first reported the investment banking giant might have intentions of launching a bitcoin trading operation. And the latest update is that Goldman Sachs has taken on “a small number of clients” to actively trade a bitcoin derivatives product, the Block reported Tuesday, citing an unnamed source.
The report said Goldmna Sachs was also exploring ways to custody cryptocurrency for its clients. Abacus Journal reported Oct. 25 that the investment bank was “actively exploring” ways for the creation of an “ethereum product” to offer its clients, but the source cited by the Block said this information was not accurate. It was not clear if the company was even building such a product because futures for ether — native token of ethereum — do not trade on any regulated exchange in the United States. However, bitcoin derivatives are available on some regulated U.S. trading platforms, including CME and Chicago Board Options Exchange.
The source also revealed “the company’s clients aren’t necessarily looking for new products. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t interested in the market.”
Derivatives are contracts between two parties to fix the price of an underlying asset (cryptocurrency, in this case) over a period of time or for a future transaction. The user of these contracts is bound to purchase the underlying asset at a fixed price and on a specific date, and the seller commits to sell. Bitcoin derivatives would let investors manage risk, and make it safer to hold and trade the cryptocurrency. This will make bitcoin more accessible to institutional investors and businesses, as it eliminates the risk factor to some extent.
In May, the New York Times quoted Rana Yared, a Goldman Sachs executive, saying: “It [bitcoin] resonates with us when a client says, ‘I want to hold bitcoin or bitcoin futures because I think it is an alternate store of value.” The report also said “Goldman will begin using its own money to trade bitcoin futures contracts on behalf of clients,” leading to crypto enthusiasts believing the investment bank had already confirmed the plan to start bitcoin derivatives.
On Aug. 6, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein said it would be “too arrogant” to dismiss the possibility of cryptocurrency gaining public adoption as a common medium of payment.
“Goldman Sachs, as far as I know, unless nobody told me, has no bitcoin. But, if it does work out, I could give you the historical path why that could happen, have happened. And so, I’m not in the school of saying, ‘Gee – because it’s uncomfortable with me, because it’s unfamiliar: This can’t happen.’ That’s too arrogant,” Blankfein said during an interview with the Economic Club of New York.
In September, it was reported the company was backing away from its plans to start bitcoin futures, following which the price of bitcoin and several other cryptocurrencies fell substantially. After the crash, the company claimed the trading desk plans never had a fixed timeline for this product.
Goldman Sachs and Galaxy Digital Ventures, an investment firm, recently invested $16 million in BitGo, a blockchain security company headquartered in Palo Alto, California. BitGo announced Oct. 18 the two companies had given it funding to support the development of its cryptocurrency wallet.