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Crypto Custody Firm Fireblocks Opens Switzerland Office

Morgan Stanley alum Ana Santillan and former Bitcoin Suisse executive Richard Astle will co-lead the new office.

Sep 14, 2021 at 1:00 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 8:56 p.m. UTC

Crypto unicorn Fireblocks is opening an office in Switzerland.

The move comes as part of the cryptocurrency custodian’s European push, which has seen the New York-headquartered firm double its headcount over the past six months to more than 200.

The new office will be led by Richard Astle, formerly of Bitcoin Suisse, and Ana Santillan, who established Morgan Stanley’s Swiss fixed-income institutional service team. The new office adds to London and German hubs for Fireblocks, which earlier this summer raised $310 million in a Series D funding round.

Fireblocks CEO Michael Shaulov said some of the custody tech provider’s first clients were in Switzerland and that Swisscom Ventures, the venture arm of the Swiss tech giant, was an early investor.

“Switzerland is an important territory with an interesting combination of a lot of banks, but also a regulator that was fairly advanced early on and gave a lot of clarity,” Shaulov told CoinDesk in an interview.

Swiss banks tend to be more advanced when it comes to crypto than their counterparts elsewhere, and the region has a number of firms specializing in crypto custody and trading.

However, most of the Swiss custody providers are using legacy technology based on hardware security modules, Shaulov said, touting Fireblocks’ system of multi-party computation (MPC)

“Three or four years ago, people were only really interested in cold storage,” said Shaulov. “Nowadays, it’s just not sufficient. They want brokerage, they want to provide lending, they want to provide other services that are transactional.”

DISCLOSURE

The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

Ian Allison is a senior reporter at CoinDesk.

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