Nomura's crypto hiring slows, aims for first product by mid-2023

Quick Take

  • Nomura’s crypto unit, Laster Digital, is capping hiring at around 50 people for now.
  • A Dubai license is expected in the first quarter of next year.
  • It plans to roll out crypto funds and exchange-traded funds starting in mid-2023. 

Nomura's new crypto trading unit, called Laser Digital, plans to pause its hiring plans while it focuses on rolling out its first products.

The Switzerland-based operation is creating bitcoin and ether-focused crypto funds and exchange-traded fund products — and hopes to gain regulatory approval for the first one by mid-2023. 

The team has around 50 people, including 10 joining in the coming months. Laser Digital, which is segregated from the rest of the Japanese bank, recently reviewed staff numbers and decided that an earlier target of 100 hires was no longer appropriate, co-founder Jez Mohideen told The Block.

Expanding the headcount depends on whether ''the market is in a healthy shape,'' he said. 

The collapse of crypto exchange FTX amid allegations of mishandling client money and the subsequent plunge in the value of major coins, including bitcoin, has shocked the crypto community. Many institutions are expected to put their virtual asset investment plans on hold.

Mohideen said his team ''will move thoughtfully and take our time'' following the news of FTX's demise. “We expect regulation will be accelerated and the crypto market of the future to be a more institutionalized and regulated market,'' he added.

Laser Digital hopes to secure its first license from Dubai in early 2023, while a second license application in Switzerland will take longer.

The firm will also focus on market-making for institutional-grade crypto platforms and run a proprietary trading team backed with more than $100 million in capital. The firm expects to trade client money once licenses are in place.

Olivier Dang heads a venture capital team within Laser Digital that plans 15 to 20 deals a year in firms that are developing institutional-grade crypto products. The firm may also become a market maker in the tokens issued by their VC-backed firms, Mohideen said.

''We are big believers the world will get tokenised'' with significant benefits and less need for intermediaries, he added.

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