DEFI

Nomura Targets Crypto Venture Space With Laser Digital

  • Laser Digital is set to invest in DeFi, Web3 and blockchain infrastructure companies
  • Nomura partnered with CoinShares and Ledger to launch crypto custodian Komainu in 2020

Japan-based financial giant Nomura is looking to expand its digital asset ambitions with a new crypto-focused company that would invest in the space’s innovators, as well as offer trading and other investment products to institutional clients.

Called Laser Digital, the company is set to first concentrate on venture capital — investing in companies that focus on DeFi, centralized finance, Web3 and blockchain infrastructure, the investment bank revealed Wednesday.

The company intends to also focus on secondary trading and investor products as it seeks to launch more services in the coming months.   

Steven Ashley and Jez Mohideen will be chair and CEO of the new business, respectively. Nomura has incorporated Laser Digital’s holding company in Switzerland. 

“Staying at the forefront of digital innovation is a key priority for Nomura,” Nomura CEO Kentaro Okuda said in a statement. “This is why, alongside our efforts to diversify our business, we announced earlier this year that Nomura would be setting up a new subsidiary focused on digital assets.”

Nomura had first revealed plans for the business in May — a month after it formed its digital company as part of a reorganization of its future innovation division.

“The new company will enable us to build an edge in providing institutional clients with access to a wide range of new products and services and contribute meaningfully towards responsible innovation in the digital asset ecosystem,” Ashley said at the time. 

Ashley, formerly head of Nomura’s wholesale division, has stepped down to help lead Laser Digital. Christopher Willcox, previously CEO of JPMorgan Asset Management, is set to replace him in that role on Oct. 1, Nomura said in a statement.

Now Laser Digital’s CEO, Mohideen joined Nomura in 2018 as a global chief digital officer. Prior to Nomura, he had led the development of systematic trading capabilities at hedge fund Brevan Howard. 

Nomura is not new to the crypto space. It partnered with cryptoasset manager CoinShares and digital asset security company Ledger in 2020 to launch crypto custodian Komainu.

A Nomura spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment.


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  • Ben Strack is a Denver-based reporter covering macro and crypto-native funds, financial advisors, structured products, and the integration of digital assets and decentralized finance (DeFi) into traditional finance. Prior to joining Blockworks, he covered the asset management industry for Fund Intelligence and was a reporter and editor for various local newspapers on Long Island. He graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in journalism.

    Contact Ben via email at [email protected]


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