Is Wall Street Sinking Its Teeth Into Bitcoin?

Zachary Volkert

Bitcoin has been gaining steam steadily over the past few years, something that hasn’t gone unnoticed by investment firms used to working in traditional currency. That interest, however, was played largely on the side until Wedbush Securities, Inc. took the first leap into Bitcoin with the purchase of a stake in Buttercoin, according to Buttercoin Chief Executive Officer Cedric Dahl.

The Wall Street firm will now buy and sell and digital currency as part of the other services offered by the Los Angeles-based firm. Buttercoin itself — backed by Google Venture and Y Combinator — currently offers a means for businesses to trade between traditional cash and bitcoins. Although the Wall Street firm has not disclosed what its own stake will be in Buttercoin, it has revealed that it will attempt to raise around $25 million to fund the venture, according to Dahl.

“Wedbush will be bringing in their friends from Wall Street.”

Other Wall Streeters have been mixed on their opinions about Bitcoin, according to Bloomberg. Several major players have predicted the eventual demise of the online currency, among them Warren Buffet and JP MorganChase executives. Even with Buttercoin itself, the Wall Street firm also seems to be testing the waters carefully despite going ahead with the investment, according to Gil Luria, who oversees the bitcoin for Buttercoin.

“Immediate term, we have an account with Buttercoin, we are buying and selling in the limited capacity. Longer term, we’d like to help our investor customers to sell on Buttercoin.”

Financial reporters have been predicting a move into bitcoin for Wall Street for a while now. An article from NBC appeared in June that argued that the medium had several key benefits for Wall Street, among them the possibility for high returns on investment.

“The second aspect of bitcoin that is exciting the venture capital community is the idea of consumers using the currency as a means of payment. Well-funded start-ups, such as BitPay, Coinbase and SnapCard, are trying to make bitcoin payments and purchases easy for the masses—both online and at brick-and-mortars.”

Despite widespread knowledge that Bitcoin exists, the complications of the currency have caused many to be quite confused about what exactly it does. In short, says an editorial in Wall Street and Tech explaining the inner-workings of Bitcoin, is best understood by a clear comprehension of “the blockchain.”

“Bitcoin, the open-source protocol, was released in 2009 by an anonymous programmer who called himself Satoshi Nakamoto. At its core, Bitcoin centers on the concept of ‘the blockchain,’ a public ledger, which records every transaction on the Bitcoin network. The blockchain employs innovations from cryptography, peer-to-peer technology, and economics to allow two parties who don’t know each other to instantly and securely transfer assets — without a trusted third-party intermediary.”

Do you think more Wall Street investors are going to start investing in Bitcoin?

[Image via Flickr]