A British woman who created the credit default swap has emerged as one of the world’s richest cryptocurrency and blockchain tycoons.
Blythe Masters, formerly head of commodities at JP Morgan, was boss of Digital Asset Holdings, a start-up funded by some of the world’s largest banks, between 2015 and 2018.
The 51-year-old is still on the board of the company, which specialises in blockchain technology, which is a type of database.
She has amassed a personal fortune of £360million, according to research from online forum Traders of Crypto.
It makes her the only Briton, and the only woman, in the top 25 richest cryptocurrency tycoons globally.
She was once labelled ‘the woman who invented financial weapons of mass destruction’, due to the role played by credit default swaps – a financial derivative or contract that allows an investor to ‘swap’ their credit risk with that of another investor – in the 2008 financial crisis.
Masters has defended the instruments saying ‘poor workmen tend to blame their tools’.
Masters is known for helping to create the credit-derivatives market in the 1990s, and was the most high profile woman on Wall Street when she left JPMorgan in 2014 after a 27-year career with the bank.
Masters, who was born in Oxford, started off in JP Morgan as an intern and worked her way up to run the bank’s commodities trading operation, delivering talks to New York traders.
A controversial figure, she helped develop and market credit derivatives, which were meant to insure investors if a loan went into default but instead blew huge holes in the balance sheet of financial firms such as insurer AIG during the 2007-08 financial crisis.
She was the chief financial officer of JP Morgan’s investment bank from 2004 to 2007 before switching to run the commodities business, which she built into one of the biggest players in the industry.
She was back in the spotlight in July 2013, when JP Morgan agreed to pay $410 million to settle U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission allegations that units Masters oversaw manipulated power markets, enriching itself at the expense of California and Midwest residents from 2010 to 2012.
Masters is a graduate and Senior Scholar of Trinity College, Cambridge where she received a B.A. in Economics.