After the crash, dreams die hard for Wall Street crypto bankers

Limbo—that’s where to find Wall Street when it comes to cryptocurrencies.

Squeamish from the start about pursuing profits in one of the darker corners of finance, established firms this year slowed their already halting efforts to make a business out of Bitcoin mania. While none has thrown in the towel, and some continue to develop a trading infrastructure, most flinched as the value of virtual coins collapsed.

Take Goldman Sachs Group Inc., which sought to position itself at the cutting edge of digital assets that skeptics see mainly as a domain of day traders and anarchists. Progress has been so slow as to be barely noticeable, according to people familiar with its crypto business. Many in the industry now say it was quixotic to have expected last year’s frenzy to translate into a Wall Street crypto offering.

“The market had unrealistic expectations that Goldman or any of its peers could suddenly start a Bitcoin trading business,” said Daniel H. Gallancy, chief executive officer of New York-based SolidX Partners, which hopes to launch a Bitcoin ETF in the U.S. “That was top-of-the-market-hype thinking.”

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Goldman remains a focal point for expectations of an establishment embrace of crypto. The firm was among the first on Wall Street to clear Bitcoin futures and people familiar with the matter said last year it was preparing a trading desk—the bank even provided its bankers to the New York Times for an interview on its plans. After considering a

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