Adena Friedman

  • Nasdaq still hasn’t launched its market for bitcoin futures, but it has been quietly powering crypto markets across the world. 
  • Most recently, SBI Group announced it would use Nasdaq’s matching engine tech for its exchange. 
  • A person familiar with Nasdaq’s operations says it’s involved in four business arrangements of this nature with crypto exchanges. 

Nasdaq may not have launched its market for bitcoin futures yet, but it has been quietly powering crypto markets across the world. 

Rivals CME and Cboe Global Markets dominated financial headlines with the launch of their bitcoin futures markets at the end of 2017. And then Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) announced its crypto data feed at the beginning of 2018.

Nasdaq, in contrast, has stood out from the pack by making providing technology to crypto firms a focus, rather than futures or data. 

Most recently, the New York-based firm partnered with SBI Japannext, a trading company owned by SBI Holdings, on its digital currency exchange, Nasdaq announced Monday. 

SBI Virtual Currencies aims to provide the narrowest spreads in the market by leveraging Nasdaq’s matching system technology. Nasdaq has been provided trading tech for SBI Japannext since 2012. 

A person familiar with the exchange’s operations told Business Insider that Nasdaq is involved in four business arrangements of this nature with digital currency exchanges. 

Outside of matching engine technology, the exchange operator partnered in April with Gemini, the crypto exchange founded by the Winklevoss twins. As part of the deal, Gemini uses Nasdaq’s Smarts market surveillance technology to sniff out unusual trading activity on its platform. 

Valerie Bannert-Thurner, a senior vice president in charge of risk and surveillance solutions at Nasdaq, told Business Insider there’s a big opportunity for Nasdaq’s Smarts. 

“The crypto space is certainly an area we’re closely following and keen to bring our expertise and leadership in the surveillance technology space to,” she said in an interview. “So yes, this is a growth area for us as a surveillance technology provider.”

Adena Friedman, the firm’s chief executive, said in April she was open to Nasdaq becoming a crypto exchange

“I believe that digital currencies will continue to persist it’s just a matter of how long it will take for that space to mature,” Friedman said during an interview with CNBC. “Once you look at it and say, ‘do we want to provide a regulated market for this?’ Certainly Nasdaq would consider it.”

Nasdaq is also trying to get into the market for bitcoin futures, as Business Insider previously reported

In November, a person familiar with the matter said the firm is planning to launch a futures product in the second half of 2018. That timeframe is less certain now, a source told Business Insider. The futures contract would be based on 50 indexes. CME’s product, by way of comparison, is based off four indexes.

Nasdaq is going with a later launch date because it wanted to give customers enough time to vet the product, according to a person with knowledge of the product. 

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