ECONOMY

Fidelity Digital Assets to Increase Staffing 70% by Year End

Financial advisors, family offices and other institutional investors are increasingly jumping into crypto, and Fidelity Investments is growing its digital assets team and looking to expand its cryptocurrency-related products in response.

The company, which already provides institutional services ranging from digital-coin custody to trade execution, plans to increase its digital-asset employee headcount by up to 70% between April and year end, Tom Jessop, president of Fidelity Digital Assets, said in an interview. It’s also exploring the possibility of offering yield funds and other products that may involve stablecoins or DeFi coins, Peter Jubber, managing director for Fidelity Digital Funds, said in an interview.

“All of these are candidates for us as we begin this exploration,” Jubber said. “Could they result in actual products? Early days.” Fidelity filed an application with the Securities and Exchange Commission in March to offer a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund.

In the U.S. 79% of family offices had a neutral to positive view of digital assets, according to Fidelity’s survey of 1,100 professionals worldwide conducted between early December and early April. Published Monday, the survey said that factors such as the fear of inflation stirred by the financial stimulus in the pandemic was a catalyst for many investors to enter cryptocurrencies. 

“A catalyst for a lot of industries was the start of the pandemic,” Jessop said. “Our clients said the factor to get them off the fence were the macro economic issues in the pandemic.” 

For 44% investors surveyed, it increased their likelihood of investing in digital assets. Asian investors, whom Fidelity surveyed for the first time this year, are by far the most accepting of digital assets, with more than 70% of investors surveyed currently invested in them.

Investors are specifically looking for institutional investment products that hold digital assets, the survey found. More than 60% of U.S. investors expressed a neutral to positive view about a potential Bitcoin ETF.

Fidelity’s Wide Origin Bitcoin Trust would use underlying prices from exchanges including Coinbase Global Inc. and Gemini. It’s just one of many Bitcoin ETF applications the SEC is considering.   

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