Wall Street investors have been slow to embrace bitcoin, even as the cryptocurrency has soared.
John Mack, the former CEO of Morgan Stanley who led the bank through the doldrums of the financial crisis, wants to change that.
The 72-year-old banker – along with other members of investment fund Venture One – has invested in Omega One, a Brooklyn-based startup that wants to act as a middleman between investors trading volatile cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. The news was first reported by Bloomberg News’ Matthew Leising.
As an agency broker, Omega One serves as counterparty, allowing clients like Wall Street banks to avoid the risks that come with these emerging assets while still serving clients who are interested in the space. To avoid crashing a single exchange with a large transaction, Omega claims it can split big trades across platforms.
“We’re the bridge between the traditional capital markets and the crypto markets,” Omega One CEO Alex Gordon-Bradner told Bloomberg. “We will provide everything from balance sheet intermediation to a trusted counter party.”
Banks seem to be more bullish on bitcoin’s underlying technology, blockchain, than they are on actual currency. BNY Mellon, for example, has set up a blockchain ledger that mirror’s the bank’s traditional system. Even Mack’s former employer isn’t convinced bitcoin can function as a currency, saying it’s more of a value-holding asset.
Bitcoin’s price skyrocketed earlier this year to a price of over $3,000 a coin, but has fallen recently to $2,300.
“I have been watching and investing in the cryptocurrency market over the last several years, and as a Venture One portfolio company, I find Omega One to be an important next step in the emergence of this new economy,” Mack said in a statement to Bloomberg.