Finance

Ex-Chancellor Hammond takes plunge into crypto space with Copper adviser role

Former Chancellor Lord Philip Hammond has become the latest high-profile politician to join the crypto craze as he takes an adviser role at startup Copper.

Hammond will provide strategic advice to the London-headquartered company as it prepares to expand globally, according to a statement released by the firm, which provides digital currency custody and trading services to institutional investors.

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After launching on the US East Coast in August, Copper’s plans to launch in Asia are “already underway”, the firm’s statement says.

The region has drawn much attention from digital asset watchers in recent weeks, after China’s central bank effectively made all cryptocurrency-related transactions illegal in September.

Copper raised $75m in a funding round earlier this year, bolstered in June by a $25m investment from Alan Howard, co-founder of asset manager Brevan Howard, which the company says “evidences a growing appetite from institutional investors for digital assets”.

The likes of Standard Chartered, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley have all talked up the prospects of moving cryptocurrencies out of their retail heartland and into the hands of institutional clients.

READ Standard Chartered to launch UK-based institutional crypto exchange

Hammond, who stepped down as Chancellor in 2019 amid conflicts with the government over its Brexit strategy, said Copper was “innovating the highest standards of security and trading for financial institutions”.

“But the really exciting opportunity lies in the application of this technology to revolutionise the way financial services are delivered,” he added. “If we can bring together the best of Britain – entrepreneurs, industry, government, and regulators – to create and enable a blockchain-based ecosystem for financial services, we will secure the UK’s global leadership in this field for decades ahead.”

Hammond, however, recently attracted criticism for his contact with the government on behalf of OakNorth, a bank he also advisers.

The influence of politics on cryptocurrencies will be increasingly important moving forward, as regulators in the US continue to take a tough stance on crypto firms, and the Bank of England discusses whether to create a central bank digital currency.

Hammond’s hire comes on the back of other influential politicians joining the crypto world, including Binance’s recruitment of US Treasury criminal investigator Greg Monahan as its global money laundering reporting officer, and Jay Clayton, the former US Securities and Exchange Commission chair joining Fireblocks.

Copper describes itself as a “gateway into the digital asset space” for institutional investors, offering custody, prime brokerage, and settlements across 300 digital assets and more than 45 exchanges.

To contact the author of this story with feedback or news, email Justin Cash

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