By Alun John and Takashi Umekawa
A unit of Japanese financial conglomerate SBI Holdings has agreed to buy a minority stake in London-based cryptocurrency marketmaker B2C2 for $30 million, B2C2 said in a statement on Wednesday.
They also announced a partnership between B2C2 and SBI Financial Services, the latest example of more institutionally-focused crypto-currency players tying up with incumbent institutions to offer additional services to meet their clients' more complex needs.
Meanwhile, Japanese brokerages, like SBI, are seeking new sources of revenue, as a recession has hit their core income stream of local retail traders.
SBI will use B2C2's liquidity to support its clients trading cryptocurrencies, while B2C2 will tap SBI's resources, especially its balance sheet, to launch a full prime brokerage for both crypto and other asset classes, Max Boonen B2C2's founder said in an interview.
Prime brokers provide services to hedge funds and other active trading firms but Boonen said that partly because of the lack of access to funds, some typical prime brokerage services like clearing and financing were under-developed in the cryptocurrency industry.
However, he added, "We don't want to limit ourselves to crypto. Crypto is the thing we do because that was how we started,... we're keeping our eyes on the prize which is that the [prime brokerage] market is a 20 billion annual revenue market," he said.
B2C2 currently provides liquidity to banks, hedge funds and exchanges.
It already has a licence to operate in Japan, which has one of the world's most developed crypto currency markets, and regulatory frameworks.
Yoshitaka Kitao, President and CEO of SBI Holdings, said in the B2C2 statement that SBI would work to develop innovative new crypto products.
A sepatate SBI statement said that it would acquire a stake in B2C2.
(This story refiles to fix spelling of Boonen in fifth paragraph)
(Reporting by Alun John, additional reporting by Takashi Umekawa in Tokyo; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)