Ken Griffin, the billionaire founder of Citadel Securities, one of the world’s largest market-making firms, said Monday that he envisions the company entering the cryptocurrency market as a combination of a liquidity provider and an exchange.
“Given the institutional surge in interest in cryptocurrency, I think it is reasonable to expect that we will be more involved in the crypto space that provides liquidity to institutional and potentially retail investors,” said Mr Griffin at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Los Angeles.
While some market makers — firms that provide market liquidity by streaming buy and sell prices for others to trade against — such as Virtu Financial, Jump Trading and DRW, have embraced the emerging asset class, Citadel Securities has largely stayed on the sidelines.
Griffin called cryptocurrencies “a jihadist call we don’t believe in the dollar” in October.
But on Monday, he said that while he is skeptical about cryptocurrencies, he has to live with the reality that an asset is worth what people think it is worth.
“I also collect American abstract art,” he said. “Why is a painting worth $10 million? It’s oil on canvas. So value is in the eyes of the beholder.”
Citadel Securities, which was valued at nearly $22 billion after a funding round in January, is not rushing to enter the crypto market as it seeks to ensure very high standards around issues like money laundering, Mr Griffin said.
The company will aim to provide liquidity to the crypto market, but Mr Griffin also said Citadel Securities believes crypto exchange technology is “very important” in bringing buyers and sellers together.