JPMorgan, led by Jamie Dimon, quietly reveals entry to half a dozen crypto funds
Jamie Dimon, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co., listens during a discussion at the Business Roundtable CEO Innovation Summit in Washington, DC, December 6, 2018.
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images
With little fuss last month, JPMorgan Chase began giving its wealth management clients access to six crypto funds.
On Thursday, financial advisors allowed private banking clients to invest in a new Bitcoin fund created with crypto firm NYDIG, according to people who know about the move. The fund is almost identical to one that NYDIG offers to clients of rival bank Morgan Stanley, people said.
Late last month, JPMorgan launched access to four funds from Grayscale Investments and one from Osprey Funds: Grayscale Bitcoin Trust, Grayscale Bitcoin Cash Trust, Grayscale Ethereum Trust, Grayscale Ethereum Classic Trust, and Osprey Bitcoin Trust, people said.
The sources declined to be identified in relation to the offers, each citing an unpleasant fact: Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan, was one of Wall Street’s most outspoken skeptics about Bitcoin and related digital assets.
The moves of JPMorgan, the largest US bank by assets, make it clear that Wall Street’s years of reluctance to deal with cryptocurrencies is over. It follows earlier moves by rivals Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs to offer Bitcoin funds to customers, CNBC first reported, and hundreds of smaller banks have lined up to do the same.
While Dimon has referred to Bitcoin as a “scam” that would not end well, there have been signs that his resistance has subsided. Pressure grew at JPMorgan earlier this year as customers asked about bitcoin exposure and employees openly pondered when the bank would get involved.
In May, when his bank was in advanced negotiations with crypto firms about offering the series of funds, Dimon reiterated that he still does not support Bitcoin. But he acknowledged that “customers are interested and I don’t tell customers what to do.”
JPMorgan and NYDIG wealth management spokesmen declined to comment on the story.
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Greg King, CEO of Osprey Funds, said in a statement that he was “pleased that JPMorgan’s clients now have access to the cheapest Bitcoin publicly traded fund in the US”.
A Grayscale spokeswoman said the company was “excited to see respected financial institutions like JPMorgan listening and responding to investors’ growing interest in digital currencies.”
Still, the muted launch of the products this summer is a sign of the bank’s ambivalence towards Bitcoin.
JPMorgan advisors are not allowed to recommend Grayscale or Osprey funds, but can only respond to customer inquiries, according to Business Insider, who previously reported on the fund expansions.
And while the bank makes these funds widely available on its various wealth management platforms, only retail banking clients can access the NYDIG funds.
This may be because the NYDIG product provides more direct access to ownership of bitcoin that the crypto firm keeps in the cold store, rather than the other funds, which are shares in a bitcoin-backed trust. Private banking clients typically have assets of $ 10 million or more and are considered more sophisticated investors.
The NYDIG fund is being marketed as one of the most affordable and secure ways to get exposure to Bitcoin, according to Coindesk, who previously reported on the product.
The fund is also being touted with the ability to seamlessly move into an ETF in the future should any of the regulatory approvals be obtained, one of the people said.
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