• Goldman Sachs has brought on a former crypto trader, Justin Schmidt, to explore creating a bitcoin trading desk.
  • It’s the bank’s first crypto-specific hire, according to a person familiar with the hire.
  • If Goldman does go ahead with a crypto desk, it would be the first major US bank to do so.

Goldman Sachs has hired its first employee to focus exclusively on digital currencies as the Wall Street bank explores creating a bitcoin trading desk, a person familiar with the situation tells Business Insider.

Justin Schmidt joined the New York-based investment bank as a vice president and head of digital asset markets in the firm’s securities division. The news was first reported by Tearsheet. A Goldman spokeswoman confirmed the hire to Business Insider.

Schmidt will explore how Goldman could dive deeper into the nascent market for digital currencies, including the possible launch of a cryptocurrency trading desk at Goldman. He will not be trading anything at the bank, including crypto.

Bloomberg News reported in December that the bank was getting ready to launch a crypto desk by the end of June, though it remains unclear whether that timing is still on track.

If Goldman does go ahead with a crypto trading desk, it would be the first major US bank to do so. Goldman already clears bitcoin futures for some clients, as does its archrival Morgan Stanley, while other banks like Citi and Bank of America have steered clear of the market.

Banks began to dip their toes into the digital-currencies world last year as the price of bitcoin soared to $20,000.

"In response to client interest in various digital products, we are exploring how best to serve them in the space," a Goldman spokeswoman told Business Insider in an email. "At this point, we have not reached a conclusion on the scope of our digital asset offering."

Schmidt, a graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, joins the investment bank from Seven Eight Capital, where he was a senior vice president. Previously, he was a portfolio manager at WorldQuant and a vice president at Merrill Lynch.