Investment Bank Cowen Launches Digital Unit, Aims to Compete With Bulge-Bracket Firms

It’s the latest in a trend of traditional finance players spying opportunity in the cryptocurrency sector.

AccessTimeIconMar 23, 2022 at 11:45 a.m. UTC
Updated May 11, 2023 at 4:12 p.m. UTC
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New York-based investment bank Cowen (COWN) has unveiled a digital asset division, Cowen Digital LLC, which will offer full-service trade execution and custody solutions for institutional clients.

  • Cowen Managing Director Drew Forman will lead the new digital unit. Forman previously headed derivative sales and trading at the bank. Along with Cowen co-President Dan Charney, Forman told CoinDesk the launch has been a year in the making. “We will have [a] significant first mover advantage,” they said.
  • Further, they added, Cowen’s “more nimble, entrepreneurial culture” puts the bank at an advantage versus its larger bulge-bracket competitors.
  • Cowen’s move comes as more investment banks are using their positions to try bridging the gap between traditional capital markets and institutional crypto demands. Earlier this week, for instance, Goldman Sachs (GS) completed its first over-the-counter (OTC) cryptocurrency-related trade with former partner Mike Novogratz’s Galaxy Digital.
  • Cowen’s Forman said the bank is already trading around 16 tokens including bitcoin (BTC), ether (ETH), solana (SOL) and USD coin (USDC), and has a client list in the hundreds. In addition to trading, he said, being “thought leaders” for clients will also be part of the new unit’s mandate.
  • Custody will be handled by Standard Custody & Trust, a unit of digital asset infrastructure firm PolySign, in which Cowen made a $25 million strategic investment in May.
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    Michael Bellusci is CoinDesk's crypto reporter focused on public companies and digital asset firms.

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