Former JPMorgan Exec Blythe Masters Swaps Wall Street for Bitcoin
Ex-JP Morgan Chase & Co executive Blythe Masters has joined bitcoin trading platform Digital Assets Holdings LLC as chief executive.
In a statement to the Wall Street Journal, the commodities veteran expressed her belief (paywall) that blockchain technology can restore confidence and trust in the financial markets.
Digital Assets, founded by entrepreneurs Sunil Hirani and Don Wilson in 2014, will allow financial institutions to trade digital currencies alongside digitised assets. The platform is expected to launch later today.
Masters, the former head of global commodities at JP Morgan Chase & Co, said:
"Digital Assets has a revolutionary technology platform that eliminates the counterparty risk and lack of transparency that has hindered mainstream adoption of cryptographic technology. The possibilities for reducing cost and risk in settlement are enormous."
The new CEO, who is best known for her work in credit derivative products, told the WSJ that the new venture seeks to build a bridge between the emerging digital currency industry and Wall Street.
Doing so would result in something "truly revolutionary", she added.
Digital Assets will operate a decentralised wholesale settlement system in an attempt to revolutionise the traditional, centralised financial model.
The company will also provide the necessary tools to allow customers to convert traditional securities and other financial instruments into a digital form which can be written into the blockchain.
Masters told the WSJ this would mean that people could trade assets in a less costly and more efficient and secure environment.
By building a software platform that enables secure trading and settlement, Digital Assets hopes to avoid the counterparty failures which Masters says "have plagued bitcoin and other digital assets".
"The solutions Digital Asset will help scale and commercialise under Blythe's leadership have the potential to transform fundamentally how we think about the creation, settlement, tracking and transfer of assets and currencies."
Division of opinion
According to Masters, bitcoin is neither an alternative currency nor a lucrative investment – rather "a medium for exchange and a mechanism for recording information".
She is not the first Wall Street banker to get into cryptocurrency. Her ex-husband, Daniel Masters, a former commodities trader at JP Morgan Chase & Co, set up the first regulated bitcoin fund, GABI, in Jersey last year.
Speaking with CoinDesk in September, Masters echoed his ex-wife's statements on the future of cryptocurrency:
"The best scenario for bitcoin is that there is a bridge between the bitcoin world and the world of traditional finance. Unless there is a working relationship, it will just slow down the development of bitcoin dramatically."
Despite support from two of JP Morgan's former heavyweights, not everyone at the organisation agrees on bitcoin's potential.
Jamie Dimon, the bank's chairman and CEO, has been famously dismissive of the technology: "bitcoin developers are going to try and eat our lunch and that's fine."
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