Gemini poaches New York Stock exchange CTO
The hire is a contextually significant one in the long line of executives leaving Wall Street for crypto.
The Gemini cryptocurrency exchange has hired the New York Stock Exchange's chief information officer Robert Cornish as chief technology officer for the exchange, Business Insider reports.
He will reportedly be in charge of overseeing Gemini's use of the Smarts system, the surveillance technology used by Nasdaq to monitor the markets. A lot of top talent from Wall Street has left for crypto ventures, but Cornish's appointment in particular may be notable in the context of Gemini's broader goals for the legitimisation of the cryptocurrency space.
In context, the hire is a sign of the increasingly close ties between traditional and crypto financial institutions.
Gemini and Nasdaq have been collaborating for at least a few months now. The nature of the deal is reportedly along the lines of Nasdaq's market monitoring equipment (Smarts) in exchange for Gemini's cybersecurity expertise to help Nasdaq better understand the risks and required countermeasures for storing digital assets.
Cornish's appointment to oversee Smarts suggests that things are well underway for both parties, and that the knowledge exchange program has started bearing fruit. While Gemini is moving closer to the traditional financial markets, Nasdaq and others are moving towards the new digital asset world.
Nasdaq CEO Adena Friedman recently said that Nasdaq was perfectly open to the idea of cryptocurrencies after the market matures a bit. That maturation has been well underway in recent weeks, and the earlier adopters among traditional financial institutions have started announcing their moves into cryptocurrency.
The world's first major exchange-operated cryptocurrency brokerage desk launched in March 2018 with TMX Group's Shorcan Digital Currency Network. At about the same time, Liechtenstein's Bank Frick started offering cryptocurrency buying, selling and custody services at the request of its clients.
The same motivation induced Goldman Sachs to push towards cryptocurrencies. It's starting with derivatives, but plans to start offering cryptocurrency proper once it figures out the logistics of safely buying, selling, moving and storing digital assets. And on 6 July, the Swiss SIX exchange announced the SIX Digital Exchange, the "first market infrastructure in the world to offer a fully integrated end to end trading, settlement and custody service for digital assets."
All these recent moves are showing a change in the way financial institutions are getting involved in cryptocurrency. Bitcoin derivatives like those rushed to market by CBOE and CME are a quick way of responding to client demand but don't show a lot of engagement with the growing digital asset space as a whole.
But now the tenor is shifting towards actual engagement and real investment in the long-term creation and maintenance of systems for trading and managing digital assets. This is a considerable investment and is much more intensive than whipping up some derivatives.
That so many financial institutions, including Nasdaq, are making this move shows how quickly the cryptocurrency space is progressing, and how far it has come in the last few months alone.
Disclosure: At the time of writing, the author holds ETH, IOTA, ICX, VET, XLM, BTC and NANO.