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Big Wall Street firms now have new options for storing bitcoin.
Announced Sunday, Palo Alto-based startup BitGo has unveiled a new suite of custodial services aimed at institutional investors who may be eying the market with interest.
The product launch notably builds on BitGo’s move to buy Kingdom Trust, a US qualified custodian of traditional financial assets, in January. But while that acquisition is still awaiting regulatory approval, that isn’t stopping BitGo from bolstering its offerings.
BitGo head of product Tracy Olson indicated that the launch – which finds BitGo stratifying its service into three offering tiers – is about framing the company as a full spectrum provider of security solutions, one that can now scale from consumer to institutional needs.
“We’re definitely seeing a lot of bigger names interested in digital currencies. But there are other customers like smaller hedge funds, they just don’t want to have to hold custody themselves. They’re looking to have the security and compliance and storage solutions that they can outsource to, and that’s what BitGo is really delivering.”
The three services tiers include “qualified custody,” in which BitGo offers secure storage and custody through Kingdom Trust; “institutional custody,” a solution that enables clients to manage wallets connected and disconnected from the Internet; and self-managed custody.
As such, Olson positioned the full offering as one that can appeal to the risk-tolerance of all types of clients, from those who want to set up and manage wallets themselves, to those that want others to manage the sensitive cryptographic keys required to access funds.
“These are really targeted at different market segments. The market is really demanding these three different solutions,” Olson continued.
As for customer details, Olsen indicated that BitGo would not reveal the total value of the assets it helps custody, though she said 15 percent of bitcoin transactions now occur through the company’s wallet offerings.
Still, that’s not to say there isn’t work to be done on BitGo’s offering.
Olsen indicated that BitGo now provides its custody solutions to over 20 cryptocurrencies, but that the company is “absolutely” looking to increase that number in 2018.
“We see a lot of demand of customers for a wide variety of coins. We evaluate each of them for viability in the market and then we prioritize them accordingly,” he said.
While BitGo primarily started as a bitcoin-only firm, it steadily increased the number of coins it supported over 2017 in line with a jump in the number of crypto hedge funds, as well as wallet and exchange providers that began moving to support multiple protocols.
Notably, however, Olsen hinted that interest at larger institutional firms mirrors this trend, with many indicating an interest in the wide variety of crypto assets on the market today.
“They see it as a compelling asset class and want to diversify their portfolios with ethereum, ripple and other digital currencies,” she said.
Wall Street ambitions
Overall, the announcement also serves to potentially recast BitGo as a rare cryptocurrency startup ready to appeal to those seeking to do business on Wall Street.
Propelled by announcements such as Goldman Sachs’ coming launch of a dedicated crypto trading desk, others are entering the market. Still, investment in security and custody has arguably lagged over the years, as evidenced by the fact that there are only a handful of such providers today.
Among them are Ledger and Coinbase, two companies that have also sought to raise big funding rounds to serve custody products to an institutional clientele.
However, as Olsen indicated, the nascent state of the market today means that all entrants are competing against the sometimes negative perception of the technology.
“There’s a reputation out there for digital currencies that they may be associated to the underworld, but I believe they are coming around and are seeing the value in investing in this asset class.”