Goldman Crypto Chief Flags Institutional Demand Driving Boom

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is seeing substantial demand for digital assets from institutions as it works to restart its cryptocurrency trading desk.

In a survey of nearly 300 clients by the firm, 40% currently have exposure to crypto, according to Matt McDermott, global head of digital assets for Goldman Sachs Global Markets Division, speaking on a podcast. The situation is different now compared with the 2017 Bitcoin bubble due to “huge” institutional demand across different industry types and from private banking clients, he said.

McDermott confirmed plans reported last week for Goldman to restart its crypto trading desk, which he said will be “quite narrow initially,” with a focus on areas such as CME Group Inc. futures. He said that U.S. banks need to cope with regulations that bar them from trading physical cryptocurrencies.

Bitcoin and ether prices have jumped since last year

Cryptocurrency enthusiasts argue that digital tokens and the underlying blockchain technology are gaining acceptance among more mainstream institutions and investors. The derivatives market and new investment products have made digital assets more easily accessible. Some strategists posit that the asset class is a potential diversifier for portfolios, while others are more skeptical and blame speculators for inflating a possible bubble in Bitcoin and other cryptos.

Bitcoin rose as much as 3.4% on Monday in Asia, while Ether gained as much as 5.3% to the highest since Feb. 23.

Blockchain technology offers “a real diverse set of opportunities for the financial industry and something that there’s a huge amount of momentum” for in the market, McDermott said. “We know firsthand just given the various different projects we’re working on. And we see this as a hugely exciting time exploring the potential of that technology.”

As for prices, 76% of those surveyed see Bitcoin ending 2021 between $40,000 and $100,000, McDermott said. However, 22% expect it to end the year over $100,000.

by Joanna Ossinger

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