Dick Corcoran, a veteran of the South Dakota banking industry, now helms something new: a trust company designed to hold digital assets.

For decades, Dick Corcoran shaped the landscape of the trust industry in South Dakota. Now, he’s come out of retirement to spearhead a new twist on an old business: cryptocurrency. 

Corcoran was recently named chief executive of BitGo Trust Company, a South Dakota-based trust specifically built to store digital currencies.

“Right now it’s a booming industry; it’s got a growth all its own,” he said.

BitGo’s parent company, Palo Alto, California-based BitGo Inc., says BitGo Trust Company is the first qualified custodian created for cryptocurrency. For institutional investors such as banks, that’s a big deal – one that could open up cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum to a broader set of investors. 

Under federal regulations, institutional investors such as fund managers and investment advisers must store assets with a qualified custodian – a regulated entity that brings an additional layer of security to asset storage.

BitGo says that’s been a missing link in the cryptocurrency sector – one it aims to fix with BitGo Trust Company as it the digital currency market is working to shed its image of something of a financial Wild West.  

“I really look at this as (being) in its infancy, because what’s been missing up to this point has been that qualified custodian,” Corcoran said. “Now that we’re trying to fit that missing piece, I just see that this is going to continue to grow and growth and grow, where you’re going to see more fund managers allocating more assets to the cryptocurrency world. This is going to be evolving over time here relatively quickly.”

BitGo, BitGo Trust Company’s parent company, was founded in 2013 and is a financial services company for the cryptocurrency world. BitGo Trust Company received its charter from South Dakota regulators in October. Corcoran currently leads a team of seven based out of an office in Sioux Falls, and he expects the number of local employees to double in a year.

“We were really able to develop a team here that is very knowledgeable in the compliance world and bring that traditional function to this non-traditional cryptocurrency world, and help really assure the customers that their assets are secure,” he said.

Corcoran is himself an institution in South Dakota’s banking industry. His experience in the trust industry runs deep. He retired from the banking business in 2016, after 25 years leading the trust department at First National Bank in Sioux Falls. He previously worked at the law firm Woods, Fuller, Shultz & Smith, which specializes in trust and corporate law, and was an executive at First Northwestern Trust Co. of South Dakota. 

Corcoran didn’t just hold significant positions in the industry. He helped shape the state’s regulations for the trust sector. In 1997, Corcoran was appointed by then-Gov. Bill Janklow as one of the original members of the Governor’s Task Force on Trust Administration and Reform, and was re-appointed by Gov. Dennis Daugaard in 2014.

“It’s an exciting industry. We’re just excited to be here and I know the regulators were excited too, so we think it just puts South Dakota further on the map,” Corcoran said. 

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