In brief

  • BlockFi hires two former traditional finance executives to lead its launch of a Bitcoin rewards card and other expansion efforts.
  • Former American Express VP Wittney Rachlin is the crypto startup's new chief growth officer.
  • David Olsson, a former director at Credit Suisse, will lead the expansion of BlockFi’s institutional services.

BlockFi, the financial services company behind Bitcoin savings accounts and loans, is not just taking a page out of the traditional finance industry, it’s taking some of its executives now too.

The company today announced a new round of hires. And among them are former executives from investment banking giant Credit Suisse and American Express.

Wittney Rachlin, who “drove consumer and commercial growth” as the vice president of credit cards and global commercial payments for American Express, is now BlockFi’s new chief growth officer. She will be first tasked with leading the development of BlockFi’s Bitcoin rewards card, which is slated to launch later this year.

The other major hire was David Olsson, a former “ultra-high net-worth” investment manager with Credit Suisse and Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Olsson will lead the expansion of BlockFi’s institutional services into European and Asian markets, according to a company statement.

BlockFi CEO Zac Prince told Decrypt that he thinks the old guard from traditional finance will help validate and grow the nascent crypto lending industry. 

“There are lots of things that the crypto ecosystem can learn and emulate from traditional financial services in terms of marketing, distribution and incentive alignment,” he said. “Talented professionals with financial services experience joining the crypto ecosystem is a big positive for the space in terms of validation and capacity to keep building.”

Rachlin told Decrypt that while she wasn’t “a crypto enthusiast that got in on day one,” she became fascinated by it after doing her research and realizing it “just made sense” as an investment.

“After I made my first purchase of Bitcoin, which was admittedly recently, I was hooked,” she said. “Bitcoin has a much wider following than many realize. It’s not just for millennials. It’s for people who want to invest in the future, and I want to help bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies feel available to the average investor,” said Rachlin.

Rachlin added that she aims to help traditional investors better understand the value of cryptocurrencies. Similarly, Olsson told Decrypt that he sees crypto and blockchain as “a natural evolution of traditional finance,” because it provides “a much more efficient way of doing business.”

“Inherently, it’s more secure, cost effective and fast—everything you want to build a smart and adaptable investment strategy,” he said. “I have no doubt that it will become the dominant avenue for markets to operate.”

Beyond what these hires can potentially do for BlockFi specifically, Prince said he believes that the crossover of executives from traditional finance can help legitimize the “fragmented” crypto industry and improve its reputation.

“It's dark web past has nothing to do with its future,” said Price. “It’s not just something ‘the cool or young kids are doing. It has real value no matter who you are and what your financial or investment goals are, and deserves to be accepted as such.”

The latest hiring spree comes as BlockFi continues to expand its services and market reach. In March, it raised its interest rates on Bitcoin savings accounts to as much as 6% APY. And last month, it partnered with Three Arrows Capital to open an office in Singapore and expand its services into Asia.