LMAX exchange boss David Mercer saw his pay double in 2021, after the company enjoyed a bumper year across both its traditional exchange and new crypto offering.

Mercer, chief executive for more than 11 years and the biggest individual shareholder in the business, was paid £1.6m in 2021, twice the £800,000 in the previous year, according to results released on 2 November.

The London-based operator cashed in despite what Mercer described as a “challenging” global economic environment last year, doubling profits to $62m. Total trading volumes across the group hit $5.4tn, a 20% year-on-year rise.

Those volumes were boosted by a 340% year-on-year increase for LMAX Digital, the spot crypto exchange launched in 2018, hitting $500bn.

LMAX now has more than 600 institutional clients trading on its crypto platform, according to the results.

The firm is also in hiring mode across the crypto space. LMAX Group employs more than 250 people. Around 75 work for its digital arm, a number that has doubled over the course of 2022.

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The soaring volumes for the company’s crypto arm came as tokens like bitcoin doubled in value over the course of 2021, hitting a record high of more than $67,000 in November last year.

Crypto prices have dropped off significantly since then, however. The collapse of stablecoin terraUSD and its associated cryptocurrency luna sparked a wider market crash in the second quarter of 2022.

Bitcoin, the world’s largest cryptocurrency by market cap, has hovered around $20,000 since the beginning of September.

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Analysts say crypto values – which have become more correlated with the broader stock market this year – are unlikely to break free of their current range until the Federal Reserve starts cutting rates.

Mercer, speaking at an industry event in October, said it will be institutions that spark a return to better times for crypto prices.

“The weight of institutional money will drag us out of this downturn,” he said. “The value of the asset class is much higher than the last bear market. The ecosystem looks more solid and diverse, and it looks more institutional.”

Reporting back from a recent trip to Washington, he estimated only a roughly 10% chance of the US passing crypto legislation this year – a factor that has been cited as a barrier to institutional adoption – but said that “legislation is inevitable” in the next Congress.

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