Goldman Sachs Makes ‘Milestone’ Crypto Trade With Galaxy Digital

The bank’s first over-the-counter crypto transaction could spur other Wall Street heavyweights to follow suit


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key takeaways

  • The transaction marks “an important development” for the asset class, according to Max Minton, head of digital assets for Goldman Sachs’ Asia-Pacific division
  • Galaxy expects the trade to “open the door” for other banks considering similar offerings

Goldman Sachs has added to the crypto products it trades, as the bank’s expansion is the latest signal of the continued institutional adoption of digital assets.

Galaxy Digital Holdings facilitated its first over-the-counter (OTC) crypto transaction with Goldman in the form of a bitcoin non-deliverable option (NDO), the firm announced on Monday. The crypto company called it the first OTC crypto transaction by a major US bank.

An NDO is an option for which the underlying asset cannot be delivered. Settlement, at its maturity, is made in cash instead.

“We are pleased to have executed our first cash-settled cryptocurrency options trade with Galaxy,” Max Minton, head of digital assets for Goldman Sachs’ Asia-Pacific division, said in a statement Monday. “This is an important development in our digital assets capabilities and for the broader evolution of the asset class.”

Additional details about the transaction, such as its size, are unclear. A Goldman Sachs spokesperson declined to comment.

Ben McMillan, founder and chief investment officer of IDX Digital Assets, said Goldman Sachs’ OTC trade with Galaxy is “a big milestone” that paves the way for more derivatives products in the crypto space that institutional investors are used to using.

“It also helps that Goldman is an established entity to the regulators, which means investors won’t have the same concerns with Goldman as a counterparty that they would with a less-established crypto entities — no matter how well-funded they are,” McMillan told Blockworks.

“It’s hard to see how this move doesn’t cause the other big Wall Street banks to follow Goldman’s lead.”

Galaxy unveiled last June that it would serve as Goldman Sachs’ liquidity provider for its bitcoin futures block trades on the CME. Galaxy CEO Mike Novogratz was formerly a partner at Goldman.

Minton said at the time that the partnership was a result of more clients looking to secure access to cryptoassets and noted Galaxy’s “broad range of liquidity venues and differentiated derivatives capabilities spanning the cryptocurrency ecosystem.”

“We are pleased to continue to strengthen our relationship with Goldman and expect the transaction to open the door for other banks considering OTC as a conduit for trading digital assets,” Damien Vanderwilt, Galaxy’s co-president and head of global markets, said in a statement.

A Galaxy spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment. 

The bank had announced plans to offer bitcoin derivatives and opened a dedicated trading desk for cryptocurrency last May. It opened up trading of non-deliverable forwards at the time, a derivative tied to bitcoin’s price that pays out in cash.

Galaxy Digital’s trading platform provides liquidity in more than 100 digital assets. The company works with roughly 700 institutional trading counterparties and added 43 new relationships in the third quarter of last year.

Vanderwilt said during Galaxy’s earnings call in November that institutions are increasingly creating crypto-dedicated teams and alternative asset managers are getting more involved in the space, but a lack of regulatory clarity still impacts how many of the world’s largest asset allocators can invest capital in the sector.

President Biden signed an executive order earlier this month calling on a range of government agencies to study the “responsible development” of digital assets.

Galaxy Digital is set to hold an investor call about its fourth quarter results on March 31.

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