Ledger Doubles Down on Institutional Crypto With New Business Unit and Hiring Push

Banks used to tell Ledger they wanted to do “blockchain, not bitcoin.” Not anymore.

Mar 16, 2021 at 12:00 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 12:27 p.m. UTC

Ledger, the brand most people associate with hardware wallets, is doubling down on institutional business with a new unit and an aggressive hiring plan.

Announced Tuesday, Ledger Enterprise Solutions will drive forth the firm’s institution-focused Ledger Vault, the first crypto custody technology to be publicly linked to a major bank in the form of Nomura and the Komainu consortium, which recently raised $25 million.

As large financial institutions look to enter the new realm of digital assets, a handful of specialized custody technology firms, such as Anchorage, BitGo, Fireblocks and Curv (recently acquired by PayPal), are hoovering up this hand-holding business. Meanwhile, large corporate entities are also joining the party, following the likes of Tesla and MicroStrategy.

“We took the decision to create an independent business unit with around 50-60 people, aiming to grow that to about 120 people by the end of the year,” said Ledger Vice President of Business Solutions Jean-Michel Pailhon, who is leading the new division. “The Leger Vault solution we created in 2018 has lived within the larger group, and now it needs to come into the light a little bit more.”

Joining Pailhon’s leadership team is newly appointed VP of Sales and Partnerships Alexandre Lemarchand. Beefing up things on the engineering side, Ledger Enterprise has hired former SIX Digital (SDX) developer Alex Zinder as VP of engineering and former Thales engineer Laurent Castillo as VP of technical architecture. 

Ledger’s institutional custody tech clients include Komainu, Crypto.com, Uphold, Bank Frick, BitStamp and Nexo.

Komainu, a joint venture between Ledger, Nomura and CoinShares, went live in June after a two-year test period. Komainu’s recent $25 million seed round was led by hedge fund billionaire Alan Howard. 

“We were a little ahead of the curve when we launched Komainu during a bearish market cycle, but that also gave us time to grow and develop and we have learned a lot,” Pailhon said in an interview. 

Two or three years back, big banks would tell Ledger they wanted to do “blockchain and not bitcoin,” Pailhon said. 

“The good news is that it's now time for all the banks and institutional players to enter this market,” said Pailhon. “And guess what? Most of them are not equipped to build this from scratch and are looking for partners.”


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