SBI Financial Services has acquired institutional cryptocurrency trading firm B2C2, making it the first major financial company to run a digital assets trading desk, according to Reuters.
The purchase of the well-known crypto trading firm by a division of the major Japanese financial group SBI Holdings marks the “first sizable non-industry M&A deal that wasn’t an acquire or bail-out,” CoinShares Chief Strategy Officer Meltem Demirors tweeted in response to the news. “SBI has been an early mover in crypto, acquiring a market maker is a galaxy brain move!”
The acquisition comes less than six months after SBI Financial Services purchased a minority stake in U.K.-based B2C2 for $30 million.
At the time, Boonen said that the support of SBI “positions us to expand across asset classes as we set our sights on the $20 billion-a-year prime brokerage market.”
Last week, SBI Digital Asset Holdings Co. announced a partnership with the SIX Digital Exchange (SDX) to create a Singapore-based cryptocurrency exchange by 2022.
“The benefits of digital assets are becoming increasingly understood by leading global financial institutions, however, one of the key hurdles to market success is the availability of institutional digital market infrastructure to drive the formation of liquidity,” SBI Digital Asset Holdings CEO Fernando Vazquez Cao said in a Dec. 7 release. “In 2020 there have been more issuances and launches of digital-based products into [the] market than any previous year, with expectations of digital-[assets under mamagement] by leading financial institutions to continue to increase over the coming years.”
In November, the firm founded SBI VC Trade, a decentralized finance (DeFi) lending service. A month earlier, SBI Holdings announced plans to launch a security token for its SBI e-sports division.
“A lot of people have been dismissive [of the asset class] for a long time,” B2C2 founder Max Boonen told Reuters. “Bitcoin’s price at an all-time high has put concerns to rest.”
Nor is SBI the only major Japanese financial firm jumping into crypto. In June, Nomura bank joined forces with digital asset investment firm CoinShares and hardware wallet Ledger to launch Komainu, a crypto custody firm focused on institutional clients.
The B2C2 deal is the latest example of mainstream financial services companies jumping into the crypto market. On Dec. 3, S&P Dow Jones announced a partnership with crypto asset software and data firm Lukka to launch cryptocurrency indexes. And on Dec. 9, Fidelity Digital Assets entered the decentralized finance space, teaming up with DeFi lending platform BlockFi to offer its crypto custody services.
In November, mainstream financial giant Mariner Wealth Advisors began offering its institutional and wealthy clients the ability to invest in bitcoin through the Eaglebrook Bitcoin SMA, which uses Gemini’s custody services.