Cryptocurrency exchange FTX and its U.S. operation announced the launch of a new unit in a push to gain institutional clients and has hired ex-Coinbase Global Inc. executive Gustavo Miguel for the effort.
While FTX has served large investors through its over-the-counter desk, the newly-created FTX Access will aim to be a one-stop shop, initially equipped with advisory, trade execution and analytical tools. It will also facilitate access to make venture investments alongside with FTX. It is looking to launch crypto-linked exchange traded products, a structure popular in Europe for investors who can’t hold digital coins directly.
“This is our first major institutional push. We believe the timing is right to really be focused on this part of the business,” said Miguel, the U.S. head of FTX Access, who was recently Coinbase’s global head of derivatives.
After the initial stage, FTX Access will explore launching custody, derivatives, structured products and other asset management products, it said in a statement. Currently, about two-thirds of trading volume on FTX and FTX US comes from institutional accounts, with the rest from retail users, a spokesperson said.
Crypto platforms have seen rising competition for institutional clients as the sector gradually goes mainstream. Coinbase has been expanding its own institutional offering called Coinbase Prime and saw its institutional trading revenue surging six-fold last year to $346 million.
Another crypto exchange, Gemini, is planning to launch a full-service crypto prime brokerage in the second quarter of this year.
In crypto, the fragmentation of platforms means there’s “not the kind of Wall Street white glove service that institutional clients are used to,” said Jon Cheesman, global head of FTX Access who has been responsible for FTX’s OTC client services. “The idea here is this is a one-stop shop.”
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