Former UBS China president joins cryptocurrency firm Higgs Block as CEO

Cryptocurrency mining machines sit in operating racks at the home of Dmitry Gutov, a Russian cryptocurrency 'miner,' in Krasnogorsk, Russia, on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg

Karen Chen, the former president of UBS China Ltd., has been appointed chief executive officer at a cryptocurrency firm Higgs Block Technology Pte. Ltd., joining other financial-industry veterans in jumping ship to the burgeoning technology.

Chen started in December at Higgs Block, a Singapore-based blockchain company founded in August, according to a statement. The group includes Coinsuper, a token exchange, as well as units that provide private-banking, over-the-counter trading and consulting services in cryptocurrencies.

A growing number of financial professionals has joined the cryptocurrency world as Bitcoin’s spectacular gains over the past year start to lure mainstream investors. Still, the trend has been less pronounced for executives in China, where a regulatory crackdown has all but ended cryptocurrency trading and offerings in what used to be Bitcoin’s most active trading market. Chen would also be one of the few female executives in the male-dominated world of blockchain.

“There is a market need to disrupt the industry by integrating the cutting-edge technology with traditional financial assets and services to help sophisticated investors to bridge this gap,” Chen said in the statement.