- Jason Urban is Galaxy Digital’s global head of trading and a market veteran, with over 20 years of experience.
- In June, Urban said he expected bitcoin to reach $70,000 by the end of the year.
- He now shares his outlook for the market following the crash and a safe play for investors.
“At first, I wasn’t a believer, I definitely had my doubts [on crypto],” Jason Urban, global head of trading at Galaxy Digital, said.
After more than 20 years of experience running index-volatility businesses at major traditional finance players, such as Goldman Sachs and DRW Holdings, it’s natural that Urban had doubts on the nascent asset class that was trying to disrupt the financial system.
But he’d learned to keep an open mind.
“I had made the mistake of saying people aren’t going to buy their clothes on the internet,” Urban said. “… And now I come home everyday and there’s 10 Amazon boxes in front of my house and I swore to myself that I was never going to make that mistake again.”
Urban soon recognized the technology behind crypto was transformative and had the potential to change both the future of trading and how traders interact with the market.
In 2018, he launched DrawBridge Lending, a firm specializing in digital asset lending and borrowing, as well as structured products. Two years later, it was acquired by Michael Novogratz’s Galaxy Digital.
“We were a scrappy startup that was also becoming an institutional player,” Urban said. “But Galaxy obviously being one of the biggest and best in the space, it was a natural move.”
Now as global head of trading for Galaxy, Urban handles transactions for clients from large institutions, to family offices and crypto millionaires.
What draws clients to Galaxy for crypto trading is the firm’s ability to take risks, Urban said. By having a large balance sheet, the firm is able to be comfortable with risk and know what the best price is for risk transfer, he added.
Strong risk management would have been vital last week, when a significant price crash happened in the crypto markets as El Salvador made bitcoin legal tender. Ethereum’s native token, ether (ETH) fell as much as 27% during the sell-off, while bitcoin (BTC) fell 17%.
Prices have somewhat recovered since, with ether trading around $3,200, up 18% from last week’s lows, while bitcoin is trading around $44,400, around 7.5% above the lows of last week.
Going into last week, Urban expected there could be volatile moves in both directions, as investors returned to their desks following the Labor Day holiday and positioned accordingly.
Even amid the volatility, Urban remains constructive on the market. Back in June, Urban told Kitco News he believed bitcoin would reach north of $70,000 by the end of year, based on more institutional investors re-entering the market in the fall.
When asked if that target was still achievable following the recent crash, Urban said he remained constructive on bitcoin.
“I still think that you will see it make new all time highs by year end. Do I think it’s a straight line up? No,” Urban said. “But I do think that we will make all time highs by the end of the year.”
Charles Edwards, the creator of hash ribbons metric, said for bitcoin to go beyond all-time highs this year, there needs to be retail interest and that there’s been relatively low such interest in recent weeks.
Urban highlights the shift in leadership is part of the natural adoption process. As individuals become more familiar with crypto and bitcoin, they will move further into the ecosystem. Retail is still trading in bitcoin, however, and there’s still plenty more individuals with no exposure that realize they need to catch up, he added.
Layer one blockchains
That doesn’t mean other asset classes won’t continue to outstrip bitcoin, Urban said.
Ethereum is going to continue to be a market darling, he added.
“I think people are recognizing that it is the copper that this new ecosystem we built on,” Urban said.
Another market favorite is solana, which is deemed as an “ethereum killer”, as it provides a blockchain solution that aims to solve the high gas fees and transaction congestion experienced on the network of its larger rival.
The sol token has surged 245% in the last month and while Urban’s long beaten the drum on solana, it’s now harder to have conviction in the short term, given how much it’s appreciated in value.
“It’s had one heck of a run,” Urban said. “And it’s really hard to say to people, ‘hey, listen, the thing, it’s just gone seven times, hop in now, the water’s warm.'”
Over the long-term however, Urban is still constructive on solana. The token’s ability to survive the recent crypto bloodbath is starting to show how the market is maturing and there is now some true differentiation between assets in the space, he said.
Overall the correction was healthy, Urban said, as many of the rally in the tokens attached to layer one technologies, which are blockchain solutions such as solana, ethereum and cardano, looked extended.
But relative to the rest of the crypto market, layer one technologies have the most room for growth at the moment, Urban said. This is based on both security and regulation becoming major catalysts for whether assets do well in today’s market.
“I will say that safe plays that are off-the-beaten track are definitely some other layer ones,” Urban said. “But they’ve seen quite a move. I mean things like avalanche have really made a run. But I do think that that’s relatively safe if you want to avoid what could be a regulatory squeeze with the SEC staying there and maybe less DeFi.”