A subsidiary of Fidelity Investments, which launched a few years ago to allow institutional investors to store and trade bitcoin, plans to double its workforce this year as it forecasts rising demand for cryptocurrency amid market volatility.
Fidelity Digital Asset Services LLC plans to hire 110 technical workers, including engineers and developers with blockchain expertise, to build a digital infrastructure to support services for cryptocurrencies beyond bitcoin, said Tom Jessop, the president. The subsidiary also plans to add 100 customer service specialists.
The planned expansion at Fidelity Digital Assets comes after Fidelity Investments said in April it would allow retirement savers to put bitcoin into their 401(k) accounts later this year, the first major retirement plan provider to do so.
At Fidelity Digital Assets, founded in 2018, the hired technology will help build infrastructure to support the custody and trading services for ether, the digital currency on the Ethereum network, said Mr. Jessop. The platform is built to handle the storage, security and trading of bitcoin.
The team will also migrate platform data and applications to the cloud to support faster transactions and round-the-clock trading support and ensure the platform continues to provide institutional security as it grows, said Mr. jessop. In addition, the team will work on compliance and tax filing tools, he said.
Despite the market turmoil, including a sharp drop in cryptocurrency prices in recent weeks, Fidelity Digital Assets said it plans to continue investing in technology that supports crypto trading.
“We’re trying not to focus on the downturn and focus on some of the long-term indicators,” such as customer demand, said Mr. jessop. “We’re trying to build infrastructure for the future because we measure success over years and decades, not weeks and months.”
Mr. Jessop joined Fidelity in January 2018 after a nine-month stint as president of blockchain firm Chain Inc. Prior to joining, Chain spent 17 years in various senior positions at Goldman Sachs Group Inc.
The effects of declining crypto prices on Fidelity Digital Assets have been minimal, Mr Jessop said, although he acknowledged that new customer acquisition has slowed down.
Fidelity Digital Assets has about 400 clients, including registered investment advisors, hedge funds and asset managers, according to Terrence Dempsey, the subsidiary’s product head.
Demand for engineers and developers working on blockchain and cryptocurrency initiatives continues to grow regardless of market pressures, said Dylan Gomez, director and chief of software engineering at financial services recruiter Selby Jennings. “There’s definitely more competition and compensation has been ramped up,” he said.
According to information technology trading group CompTIA, between January 1 and May 24, advertisements for positions requiring crypto skills had quadrupled from a year earlier.
Continued interest in crypto and blockchain talent from large, traditional financial services firms is a sign that digital currencies are becoming the core of their business, Mr Gomez added.
write to Suman Bhattacharyya at Suman.Bhattacharyya@wsj.com
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