WisdomTree Investments is prepping the launch of a digital finance app that will allow customers to trade cryptocurrencies and other financial products.
The move, which was announced on Friday, will expand the New York-based asset manager’s purview with a greater focus on retail traders. It makes WisdomTree the latest example of a traditional finance firm bringing more crypto options into the mix.
In a blog post, Will Peck, WisdomTree’s head of digital assets, said the firm wants the app to “provide a core suite of savings, payments and investment” services while avoiding the worst of “trading and speculation.”
It’s a product not dissimilar to that offered by Bakkt, the digital asset firm that went public in a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) merger last year. Bakkt has seen its share price lag in 2022 amid crypto and stock market volatility, as the stock has fallen about 57% year to date. Shares of Robinhood Markets, which offers crypto and equity trading, have dropped about 35% during the same period.
Unlike Robinhood’s crypto service, “WisdomTree Prime” will be “blockchain native” at launch. Building the platform on the latest blockchain architecture was a way for WisdomTree to tap new financial services infrastructure, Peck said in an interview.
Removing intermediaries also drove WisdomTree to a blockchain-based approach, Peck said, adding that the initiative won’t put WisdomTree in a “giant cost hole.”
The investment firm seeks a beta launch in some U.S. states during the second quarter and expects a national rollout later this year.
It’s not the firm’s first foray into the cryptocurrencies. WisdomTree listed a trio of crypto exchange-traded products (ETPs) in November in Switzerland and Germany. The products are for sale across 12 European Union countries as well as in Norway and Switzerland.
The firm also teamed up with Ritholtz Wealth Management to launch the RWM WisdomTree Crypto Index. Its application to list a spot bitcoin exchange-traded fund was rejected by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, though it has subsequently refiled.
WisdomTree manages over $76 billion in assets globally, according to its latest earnings statement released today.