Nasdaq (NDAQ), the second-largest U.S. stock market operator, is starting a cryptocurrency custody service as it aims to cash in on the demand from institutional crypto investors, according to a press release on Tuesday.
The company has hired Ira Auerbach, who previously ran prime brokerage services at Gemini, as the head of its digital assets unit, the release said.
Nasdaq's move into crypto follows a wider trend across Wall Street. Last month, BlackRock, the world's largest asset manager, said it will offer cryptocurrencies to its institutional clients, and Depository Trust & Clearing Corp., which processes almost all U.S. stock market trades, released its own blockchain as it looks to speed up the settlement of trades.
“Demand among institutional investors for engaging in digital assets has increased in recent years, and Nasdaq is well-positioned to accelerate broader adoption and drive sustainable growth,” Tal Cohen, head of North American markets at Nasdaq, said in the release.
Nasdaq will compete with crypto exchange Coinbase and crypto custodians sAnchorage Digital and BitGo in holding bitcoin (BTC) and ether (ETH) for institutional clients in the U.S.
Auerbach said that Nasdaq is open to working with crypto-native firms, although it doesn't have any plans for acquisitions in the short term, a Bloomberg report said.
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