The disparate worlds of equities and crypto are set to move closer together: Voyager Digital Ltd. is planning to launch a feature later this year that will allow customers to buy traditional stocks using the stablecoin USDC.
Voyager’s new offering is a result of a joint venture announced in May with Market Rebellion to operate a regulated broker-dealer, which will handle equity trades on behalf of Voyager’s customers. Stablecoins like USDC, which is operated by Circle, are designed to closely track a traditional currency or other asset, in this case the U.S. dollar.
The move by Voyager highlights how fast-growing cryptocurrency exchanges are expanding into new business lines to diversify their revenue sources and keep customers on their platforms with more services.
FTX US and Bitstamp USA are also exploring offering equities trading, though they haven’t announced any plans to allow stablecoins in those transactions. Such moves will ramp up crypto companies’ competition with old-school brokerages like Charles Schwab Corp. and fintech players like Robinhood Markets Inc.
“Incorporating stock trading, especially basing it on digital dollars, is a natural extension of what we’re doing, of our value proposition and what consumers are going to want in the near future,” said Steve Ehrlich, chief executive officer and co-founder of Voyager.
Voyager plans to offer users commission-free equity trades in the second half of this year and it may receive some payment for order flow, Ehrlich said, adding that the company will be operating within all Financial Industry Regulatory Authority guidelines.
Ehrlich declined to share details on the mechanics of the transactions between USDC and stocks, saying that information was proprietary.
Voyager also plans to launch a crypto-funded debit card, in partnership with Mastercard Inc. and Metropolitan Commercial Bank, over the next eight weeks, Ehrlich added. The company also expects to expand into non-fungible tokens and enter Europe and Canada.
It has grown from 35 employees a year ago to 275 currently and aims to reach a headcount of 450 by the end of the year, increasing hirings especially in services and technology.
New York-based Voyager, which offers crypto staking and yield products in addition to trading, is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange and its shares are traded over-the-counter in the U.S. It has about $5 billion in assets under management and serves retail clients in the U.S., with the exception of New York state. Its preliminary revenues for last year are expected to exceed $415 million, up from $6.6 million in 2020.
Voyager is among cryptocurrency firms that are under a broad inquiry by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission into whether their high-yield products should be registered as securities. The platform offers a product that pays interest of up to 12% annually on certain token deposits.
Ehrlich said regulations on this issue remain unclear, and the company will have a plan to address them when written rules and comments become available.
— With assistance by Katherine Chiglinsky. Read full story on Bloomberg