Written by Athravan Sett (Contributing Reporter)
Boston-based giant Fidelity Investments – entrusted with managing over $7.2 trillion of assets for over 13,000 institutional clients – announced earlier this month the launch of Fidelity Digital Asset Services to cater for the growing demand for digital asset solutions.
The services, orientated for the moment around Bitcoin and Ether exclusively, will serve hedge funds, family offices and market intermediaries, with Abigail Johnson, chairman and chief executive of Fidelity Investments, explicitly stating the objective of the move as a “long-term” commitment to “mak[ing] digitally-native assets… more accessible to investors”.
Johnson, a vocal supporter of digital assets, claimed at a blockchain conference in New York City last year that she “love[s]… bitcoin, ethereum, [and] blockchain technology”, and her decision to dedicate Fidelity’s capital, and ex-Goldman Sachs Managing Director Tom Jessop (slated to head the new entity) to such a project indicates that such talk is more than just virtue-signalling.
But Fidelity will not stop there. Johnson described the launch of FDAS as the “first step in a long-term vision to create a full-service enterprise-grade platform for digital assets”. This is a vote of confidence in cryptocurrencies and the underlying blockchain technology as a promising commercial opportunity.
For an asset-class craving legitimacy, it also demonstrates to the market at large a more committed approach to institutional investment, and supports a narrative of growing curiosity and adoption of digital assets amongst investors.
Whether this will have an impact on the case for mass adoption of cryptocurrencies will be a more fruitful conversation once FDAS delivers its first product, but one thing seems apparent – Fidelity’s move has caused considerable excitement, and the crypto-sphere has acquired fresh momentum.