International investment bank Citi plans to hire 100 new staff to bring digital asset expertise to its institutional branch.
Puneet Singhvi will be appointed as the Head of Digital Assets for the bank’s institutional-clients group having previously worked on blockchain technologies and crypto assets for the global markets team. The company also plans to take on additional talent with 100 roles up for grabs to help support the company’s digital asset capabilities.
In an internal memo the head of business development for Citi’s institutional side signalled the bank’s support for cryptocurrencies. “We believe in the potential of blockchain and digital assets including the benefits of efficiency, instant processing, fractionalization, programmability and transparency,” wrote Emily Turner.
The road ahead
Mr Singhvi will build the company’s new crypto team and outline a distinct strategy on where and how institutional investors should pursue opportunities including new products, clients and investments.
Citigroup, which previously announced it would give its clients exposure to crypto assets through bitcoin future’s trading, remains cautious about which products and services it will offer.
“We are focused on assessing the needs of our clients in the digital asset space; prior to offering any products and services, we are studying these markets, as well as the evolving regulatory landscape and associated risks in order to meet our own regulatory frameworks and supervisory expectations,” a spokesperson for Citi told City A.M. reporters.
Citi’s crypto push comes amid a flurry of institutional interest in the digital asset space.
In September fellow bank Morgan Stanley announced that a new crypto research team would be headed up by currency analyst Sheena Shah whilst earlier this year the Bank of America corp created its own digital asset team.
“2020 and 2021 are proving to be pivotal years in the demand and understanding of the space,” said Fadi Aboualfa, head of research for crypto custodian Copper which caters to more than 400 institutional clients including banks.
“It is only reasonable that some of the largest banks in the world are exploring digital asset capabilities to address potential competitive challenges,” he added.
Marcus Sotiriou, Sales Trader at UK based digital asset broker GlobalBlock said that momentum will only continue.
“All banks will have to integrate crypto at some point if adoption continues at its current rate, which is what many traditionalists are now realising,” Sotiriou told City AM.
“These institutions allow crypto trading to be easier for customers which will help accelerate adoption… this will result in a virtuous feedback loop, where banks help accelerate crypto adoption which then influences other banks to get involved,” he continued.
Citigroup shares are trading up 1.6 per cent today.