Fidelity Investments might seem an unlikely player in the cryptocurrency universe as it has been operating for nearly eight decades. Fidelity’s reputation in the traditional financial management industry is unrivaled which makes it surprising to some to learn it is an early pioneer and adapter of Bitcoin.
Venturing Beyond Tradition
In a landscape typically devoid of associations with cryptocurrency in the early 2010s, Fidelity was mining Bitcoin back in 2014. This early adoption earned the company a unique distinction as a pioneer within the cryptocurrency universe.
Notably, many individuals who once formed part of Fidelity’s crypto workforce have gone on to assume pivotal roles in leading cryptocurrency companies, forming what’s now termed as the «Fidelity Mafia.»
Championing Crypto: The Mafia Grows In Size
Prominent among this group is Alex Thorn, a recognizable figure according to The Wall Street Journal. Presently the head of research at Galaxy Digital, Thorn reflects on Fidelity’s daring approach, emphasizing management «took a huge step» into crypto, rather than approaching it “with kid gloves on.»
Juri Bulovic, head of mining at Foundry, and Matt Walsh, founding partner of Castle Island Ventures, are among other members of this unique clique.
The Nexus of Fidelity’s Influence
Fidelity’s early embrace of the cryptocurrency realm attracted talented individuals to join a firm that embraced, rather than trashed Bitcoin. As WSJ highlights, the company’s progressive stance on digital currency went as high as Fidelity Investments CEO Abby Johnson.
Her proclamation in 2017 that Bitcoin must become more accessible for individuals and institutions resonated in an era when other financial titans, like Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan, were openly disparaging the nascent digital currency. Recall it was Dimon who said at around the same time that Bitcoin “will eventually blow up” and “it’s worse than tulip bulbs.”
Dimon’s stance on Bitcoin remained unchanged into and throughout 2023.
Fidelity Could Have Been ‘A Household Name’ In Crypto
Johnson was on a mission in 2014 to purchase $200,000 worth of bitcoin mining equipment, an initiative ultimately shot down by Fidelity’s finance and security department, as per WSJ.
Fidelity also contended with intensifying competition, as being one of the early entrants in a fast moving field wasn’t good enough. Unlike cryptocurrency-focused entities such as Coinbase, founded in 2012, Fidelity’s conventional image hindered its crypto aspirations.
For Juri Bulovic, an executive at Fidelity for eight years before departing in 2021, the company held the potential to be a household name in the crypto trading arena.
Fidelity “could have become a household name” for crypto trading, he said.
Today, there is no doubt Fidelity remains a player in the crypto universe, although it may not hold the status as the top dog. Fidelity is actively investing in the space, including a backing in EDX Markets that launched its exchange in late June.
Regrettably, the path Fidelity didn’t tread remains speculative, but its legacy in nurturing talent that permeates the cryptocurrency space is undeniable.
In the ever-evolving narrative of cryptocurrency, Fidelity’s covert journey into the digital frontier stands as a testament to the power of early adoption and the enduring influence of those who dare to challenge tradition.