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Wall Street

Goldman Sachs CEO denies the firm ever intended to build out a crypto desk

April 11, 2019, 5:59PM EDT

News reports of Goldman Sachs opening a cryptocurrency desk are being disputed by the firm, CEO David 'DJ" Solomon told a U.S. House of Representatives panel Wednesday.

Solomon told Ohio U.S. Rep. Warren Davidson and the House Committee on Financial Services that his firm never had plans to open a cryptocurrency desk. Solomon added the original Bloomberg story that broke the news of Goldman's intention to set up a trading desk to make markets in digital currencies like bitcoin was incorrect.

“First, that Bloomberg article was not correct. Like others, we are watching and doing work to try and understand the cryptocurrency market as it develops,” Solomon said before the Committee. “We have some clients that have certain functionality that we’ve engaged with on clearing physically settled futures, but other than that we never had plans to open a cryptocurrency desk.”

Solomon hedged regarding the firm’s likelihood of exploring a crypto trading product anytime soon, stating, “We might at some point [explore a desk] in time, but no question when dealing with cryptocurrency it’s a new area, there are a lots of issues…unclear from regulatory perspective and it’s not clear in the long-run if those currencies will be viable.”

To be sure, Goldman executive Rana Yared told the New York Times last May that the firm was clearing physically settled bitcoin futures for certain clients.

Other CEOs briefly chimed in on their own firms’ respective opinions on cryptocurrency, with JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon doubling down on his “blockchain not crypto” thesis and BNY Mellon CEO Charles Scharf noting one of the biggest issues his firm sees for cryptocurrency is around KYC/AML for institutions, and the lack of guidelines on who could be a qualified custodian.

The hearing was convened to discuss accountability and the average citizen’s lack of trust in financial institutions a decade after the financial crisis. CEOs of the seven largest U.S. Systemically Important Banks were in attendance. Their testimonies and lawmaker probes covered a wide range of topics in the multi-hour meeting, ranging from the financial crisis, capital rules, the economy, and regulation, all the way to gender equality in the workforce and even cryptocurrencies.

This post was updated to include the New York Times source.