Some of the biggest names in the hedge fund industry are wading deeper into crypto.

Steve Cohen’s Point72 Asset Management is seeking to hire a head of cryptocurrencies, while the family office of billionaire George Soros has started trading Bitcoin, according to people familiar with the matter. Spokespeople for the firms declined to comment.

The moves, which were both reported earlier by the, come as a growing number of marquee hedge funds have begun to dabble in digital assets. Point72 rival Millennium Management has been active in crypto-related futures and exchange-traded funds, while Brevan Howard Asset Management and macro trader Paul Tudor Jones have begun investing in crypto. In March, hedge fund manager Dan Loeb said he was doing a “deep dive” into crypto.

The decision by Point72 follows an announcement to investors that the US$22 billion firm was exploring investing in the sector either through its flagship hedge fund or its private investment unit. It wasn’t immediately clear what the new crypto position would entail.

“We are exploring opportunities around blockchain technology and its transformative and disruptive capabilities,” Point72 said in a May letter to investors seen by Bloomberg. “We would be remiss to ignore a now US$2 trillion crypto currency market.”

Steven "Steve" Cohen, chairman and chief executive officer of SAC Captial Advisors LP, speaks during the Robin Hood Veterans Summit in New York, U.S., on Monday, May 7, 2012.

Meanwhile, dedicated cryptocurrency firms say they’re struggling to find the right candidates to fill hundreds of positions. A frenzy of interest in digital currencies and other assets have pitted those shops against some of the world’s biggest financial institutions, with Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Bank of New York Mellon Corp. and DBS Group Holdings Ltd. starting to offer services and trading.

While the space is volatile, suffering a steep rout in May, the total market value of cryptocurrencies now stands at about US$1.4 trillion, according to CoinGecko.

Dawn Fitzpatrick, who oversees Soros Fund Management, approved traders to begin positioning in Bitcoin in recent weeks, the person said. Bloomberg first reported in 2018 that the firm was preparing to invest in cryptocurrencies but hadn’t yet put on a wager. At the time, Fitzpatrick had given macro-investing head Adam Fisher the green-light to trade virtual coins. Fisher left the firm in early 2019.

In a March interview with Bloomberg Television’s Erik Schatzker, Fitzpatrick said that Bitcoin was interesting and that the firm had been making investments into crypto infrastructure, such as exchanges, asset managers and custodians.

“There’s a real fear of debasing fiat currencies” that’s driving demand for crypto, Fitzpatrick said in the interview. “Bitcoin, I don’t think it’s a currency -- I think it’s a commodity” that’s easily stored and transferable, with a finite supply. She declined to say whether she owned any Bitcoin.

--With assistance from Dave Liedtka.