Nasdaq, the second-largest stock exchange in the US, has stepped into the multi-billion dollar cryptocurrency market with the launch of a digital assets unit – Nasdaq Digital Assets. It hopes to accommodate the institutional investors’ growing demand for cryptocurrencies. Nasdaq Digital Assets will initially offer custody services for Bitcoin and Ether to institutional investors.
Ira Auerbach, the former head of prime broker services at crypto exchange Gemini, will lead the new unit. He believes the next wave of the revolution is going to be driven by mass institutional adoption. Auerbach said Nasdaq brings that trust and brand to the market.
Tal Cohen, Nasdaq executive vice president, said they have no plans to launch a crypto exchange and would evaluate the opportunity based on the regulatory environment and competitive landscape. He disclosed that Nasdaq has applied for custodianship of digital assets with the New York Department of Financial Service. Cohen said this puts them in competition with crypto firms like Anchorage Digital, Coinbase, and BitGo. The executive described custody as foundational. Nasdaq can develop other solutions, offer executive services, and liquidity services and think about supporting new markets.
Adena Friedman, president, and CEO of Nasdaq says the technology that underpins the digital asset ecosystem has the potential to transform markets over the long term. As such, Nasdaq wants to provide institutional-grade solutions that bring greater liquidity, integrity, and transparency to support the evolution.