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TradFi Firms Scoop up Crypto Talent to Boost Blockchain Business

2 mins
Updated by Geraint Price
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In Brief

  • TradFi firms have been hiring more workers made redundant over the course of the crypto winter.
  • Most are looking to hire these skilled workers in order to develop their blockchain-based capabilities.
  • Having struggled to previously acquire such talent, banks are capitalizing on the industry exodus.
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Keen on developing their blockchain capabilities, traditional finance (TradFi) companies have been increasingly hiring crypto-savvy staff laid off by the market downturn.

Prior to the market meltdown, cryptocurrency companies had been expanding rapidly, but were then forced to contract rather quickly once prices started falling.

While companies like BitPanda and BlockFi reduced headcount, Coinbase, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the United States shed 1,110 employees, nearly 20% of its total staff in June.   

“You suddenly have a very skilled workforce redundant, looking for new jobs in markets where blockchain capability can be in very high demand,” said William Shaw, a Bloomberg reporter.

While it was thought that fintech firms would largely be the ones absorbing this pool of talent, it has rather been TradeFi firms.

TradFi banking on blockchain

Although banks remain somewhat contentious with matters surrounding cryptocurrencies – “the thing about banks and crypto, the first rule is you don’t talk about crypto,” one banker told Shaw – many are more interested in the underlying blockchain technology, and its potential for trading more conventional securities.

According to Shaw, Citi has been exploring how it can use blockchain in the bonds settlement process, while it and other big banks have been advertising for key roles around blockchain and crypto in recent weeks.

For instance, Citi have been advertising for a direct level digital asset risk manager for cryptocurrencies, Goldman Sachs is seeking a VP for crypto and blockchain, and JPMorgan’s asset and wealth management business, which manages $7 trillion in total assets, is looking for someone to oversee blockchain strategy, including crypto and digital currencies.

In fact, TradFi banks have made a glorious summer out of crypto’s winter of discontent, having been unable to source the appropriate talent until now.

According to Thomas Olson at Bain & Co., while banks had been finding it difficult to recruit appropriately knowledgeable talent in the past 6-9 months, they are now leveraging the crypto winter to get up to speed with industry developments, and scale up their crypto operations.

Specifically, they are looking for compliance specialists with knowledge of cryptocurrencies and distributed ledger technology.

Naturally, payment firms also have been keen to acquire what they consider to be “hot talent.” As Revolut raised its crypto headcount earlier this year, rival payment platforms Plaid, Stacks, and Block also encourage those with crypto experience to apply.

Filling “mission critical” roles still crucial

Yet, in spite of having to currently reduce headcount, many crypto companies remain resolute about their mission. Having shed a fifth of its staff, Coinbase is still recruiting for “mission critical roles,” such as business operations and strategy, human resources, recruiting, as well as legal and compliance.

After surviving several previous downturns, the company likely retains some flexibility and is experienced with downsizing efficiently.

However, in the prevailing economic environment it is not only cryptocurrency companies that have been struggling, but many legacy firms as well. While crypto companies’ missions may motivate many to return, for now, given the global economic turmoil, workers may prefer the security of employment at a well-established firm.

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Nicholas Pongratz
Nick is a data scientist who teaches economics and communication in Budapest, Hungary, where he received a BA in Political Science and Economics and an MSc in Business Analytics from CEU. He has been writing about cryptocurrency and blockchain technology since 2018, and is intrigued by its potential economic and political usage.
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