The bank made Mathew McDermott, a managing director who ran the investment bank’s internal funding operations, its new global head of digital assets last month.
The appointment means the newest face of blockchain and cryptocurrency on Wall Street isn’t a starry-eyed bitcoin evangelist or ostentatious start-up founder, but a 46-year-old veteran of old-school financing markets. McDermott replaces Justin Schmidt, an MIT-educated former crypto trader and quant who ran Goldman’s digital assets team since 2018. “In the next five to 10 years, you could see a financial system where all assets and liabilities are native to a blockchain, with all transactions natively happening on chain,” McDermott said in an interview. “So what you’re doing today in the physical world, you just do digitally, creating huge efficiencies. And that can be debt issuances, securitization, loan origination; essentially you’ll have a digital financial markets ecosystem, the options are pretty vast.” As hype and media coverage of the space has cooled down, there are signs of growing conviction among business leaders that distributed ledgers including blockchain will have a real impact, according to a global survey by Deloitte. Enterprise applications were a bright spot as funding for blockchain-related start-ups fell 28% last year from $4.3 billion in 2018, according to CB Insights. At Goldman, McDermott is expanding his team, doubling its headcount with hires in Asia and Europe. He has also lured talent from a key competitor: JPMorgan Chase.