By Carlo Versano

TradeStation, the online broker-dealer, is dipping its toes into crypto.

Speaking with Cheddar's Tanaya Macheel at the North American Bitcoin Conference in Miami on Thursday, CEO John Bartleman said crypto trading would be a "natural extension" to the asset classes currently offered on the TradeStation platform. He said to expect the new offering in the second quarter.

(Disclosure: TradeStation is a sponsor of Cheddar.)

TradeStation joins other retail brokerages like TD Ameritrade and Fidelity that have already invested in crypto exchanges, even as prices have plummeted and sentiment has soured since the halcyon days of late 2017 and early 2018 when crypto value was soaring.

"Things have settled down from the hysteria we saw last year," Bartleman said. "We see long-term growth in this area."

Platforms like TradeStation have an advantage over crypto exchanges like Coinbase, according to Bartleman, because they already have a customer base of retail investors who may not be fully versed in crypto trading, but may nonetheless be curious enough to enter the market via a service they already know. Also, unlike crypto exchanges, where liquidity is limited to one source, traditional brokerages can offer their customers the opportunity to aggregate their liquidity across exchanges.

Those investors are looking for a "multi-asset experience" that this offering will help advance, Bartleman said.

Even with the headwinds, crypto markets are maturing enough that these large brokerages, with their combined trillions of dollars of assets under management, want a piece of the action.

TradeStation Crypto, as it will be known, will "create more visibility and acceptance of this as a real asset class," Bartleman said.