Citi, Accel Invest in Digital Asset Manager Started by Former HSBC, Meta Executives

Wall Street and Silicon Valley are coming together to build digital asset management solutions focused on connecting institutional investors to the crypto ecosystem.Earlier this year, former HSBC trader Ashutosh Goel and former Meta Asia executive Supreet Kaur paired up to build xalts, an investment management and technology firm focused on driving real-money institutional participation in the digital asset ecosystem.

In spite of what has been termed a “crypto winter”, their vision has a lot of takers. The duo raised US $6 million from marquee Silicon Valley venture capital firm Accel, Citi Ventures (Citi’s venture capital investing group) and crypto luminaries such as Polygon co-founder Sandeep Nailwal and other hedge fund managers.

What came to the forefront this past summer in several large crypto firms was a lack of basic controls, checks and balances which most of us take for granted in the financial industry. With xalts, we are building innovative, institutional-grade investment products and solutions which focus on high compliance and control standards—things institutional investors care about,” said Goel, Chief Investment Officer, xalts. “The next leg of growth in digital assets will be driven by institutional participation in the asset class. We are starting to see the early signs of that with a lot of new initiatives coming from banks and asset managers.”

xalts is expected to launch multiple fund products linked to digital assets, including mutual funds and ETFs listed on several global exchanges. The company is also leveraging its technology platform to partner with several asset management firms and staking infrastructure providers to jointly launch and manage mutual funds and ETFs. In addition, xalts is developing several other products in collaboration with other players in the ecosystem, including a structured product and repackaging platform which will allow institutions to issue structured notes with embedded crypto options.

Institutional investors’ interest in digital assets has swelled in recent years: professional investors traded $1.14 trillion of cryptocurrencies on Coinbase Global Inc. in 2021, compared with $120 billion in 2020. Earlier this month, financial heavyweights including Charles Schwab, Citadel Securities and Fidelity Investments announced the launch of a new cryptocurrency exchange, EDX Markets, which also saw participation from the likes of Virtu Financial and Paradigm.

There is a lot of pent-up demand from institutional investors to participate in the digital asset class. However, a lot of institutions we are speaking with are not able to access this ecosystem directly. Our products and solutions bridge this gap without compromising the high standards of safety and compliance expected by institutional investors,” said Kaur, Chief Operating Officer, xalts. “Apart from investors, we are also seeing a lot of interest from fund managers and issuers to use our platform to launch structured and fund products for their clients. We expect to build a team of 30 by the end of this year across our offices in Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai and Geneva.”

Luis Valdich, Managing Director, Citi Ventures said: “xalts is our first investment in a digital asset manager, and we support its vision of creating innovative products to meet the growing appetite of institutional investors for more efficient and robust crypto-access investments.”

Our thesis is that institutional adoption of digital assets will continue to accelerate and we see a big opportunity in this space,” said Abhinav Chaturvedi, Partner, Accel.

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