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CEO CHAT: Stephen Ehrlich, Voyager

Traders Magazine Online News, October 3, 2018

John D'Antona Jr.

The crypto universe has so far been more of a retail-focused trading ecosystem.

But, if Stephen Ehrlich has his druthers, that will change – and soon. In an exclusive conversation with Traders Magazine, Ehrlich outlined his vision for his new institutional cryptocurrency trading platform, Voyager Institutional, which he plans to launch via his new and licensed crypto-asset broker Voyager Digital Holdings Inc. (“Voyager”) that provides investors with a turnkey solution to trade crypto assets.

“Based on the sheer number of conversations since we announced our retail offering Voyager this summer, it’s clear that there is a void in the marketplace and an immediate desire by institutions to participate in and offer their clients access to this emerging asset class without the significant resources, costs and time that would be required to develop an in-house solution,” Ehrlich told Traders Magazine. “We’ve noted that institutional investors wanted to be able to connect to the Voyager infrastructure by writing directly to its APIs, thereby enabling them to offer crypto trading to their clients while maintaining their existing user interfaces.”

Voyager initially planned to launch a commission-free mobile trading application for retail investors in Q4 2018 that delivers best execution in 15 currencies via smart order routing technology. However, based on significant feedback and interest from the institutional community they decided to fast-track their plans to also bring an institutional offering to market.

Voyager Institutional will focus solely on delivering a best-in-class crypto trading solution to traditional buy-side firms, hedge funds, brokerages and market makers, among other professional investors. The institutional product roll-out is also expected to commence in Q4 2018.

And Ehrlich knows Wall Street and trading. He began in the industry circa the 1980s as a CPA right on New York City’s famed Broadway. He then made the transition to financial services and entered the equities trading space in 1994 for TIR Securities and rose to be the firm’s US based Chief Financial Officer and Compliance Officer. From there he moved to E-Trade and entered the world of electronic brokerage and sales trading.

“We went from a phone-based desk with just an Instinet green screen or calling down on the floor and our future - the electronic age - and we all learned on the fly,” Ehrlich remembered. “We became the brokerage people within E-Trade because they had a lot of technology folks in place already. My boss was Jarrett Lillian and he took the role as chief brokerage officer and I was there with him doing all the M&A and brokerage strategy for about five years. Ehrlich, with his management, subsequently brought the day trading arm from E-Trade and renamed it Lightspeed Financial.”

At Lightspeed, Ehrlich, as CEO, ran the firm’s direct access business – building his desk and executing upwards of 450,000 trades per day when he left in 2012.

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