Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo, Merrill Lynch… American banks are considering the launch of these financial products indexed to bitcoin which are panicking investors.

This Friday, we have a sustained level of prices on the cryptocurrency market, even if the upward pressure calms down a little. The market has had a crazy week and spectacular gains: 20% in 5 days for bitcoin which stabilized around 62,000 dollars, ether also made +15% by exceeding the symbolic threshold of 3,500 dollars. The 2 largest cryptocurrencies on the market each gain more than 45% over one month. ETFs constitute the master catalyst on the market, with record volumes for these products, so much so that American banks, reluctant until now, are now joining the dance.

Indeed, until now the spot bitcoin ETFs launched in mid-January in the United States have been the subject of a real frenzy among major managers, including Blackrock and Fidelity. Now the banks are entering the scene, with Morgan Stanley in the lead. 3 years ago, the bank was one of the first to offer bitcoin ETFs on ‘futures’ products to its wealthy clients. It is now considering offering spot ETFs via its own trading platform.

An ETF (or Exchange Traded Funds) is an index fund trading on a stock exchange which follows the evolution of a stock index (or one or more financial or physical assets, such as gold) by replicating the increase as well as the drop in the price of this index (or these assets).

Banks Dance

Is there a question of selling the products of major recently approved managers, or of selling your own spot ETFs? This is not yet very clear, but Morgan Stanley has launched a feasibility study. We must especially see if it could not run into regulatory problems and if the products in question are 100% eligible within the framework of what approved investment advisors can offer, this is the RIA status in the United States. .

But Morgan Stanley is already positioning itself alongside Wells Fargo and Merrill Lynch, who have been discreetly offering spot bitcoin ETFs for several weeks, only to certain of their clients eligible for wealth management. Here again, there is a mystery about the exact nature of these products: in-house products or existing ETFs? It is clear that the major maneuvers have begun and that the banks, with their unrivaled customer base, will constitute the second stage of this rocket which is called the financialization or institutionalization of bitcoin.

On January 10, the American stock market watchdog (the SEC) authorized 11 spot bitcoin ETFs, offered in particular by asset managers like Blackrock and Fidelity. Before this date, the SEC only approved Bitcoin futures ETF (this was the case since 2021) but not spot (spot) bitcoin ETFs, considering that futures are more difficult to manipulate because the market is based on the futures prices of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), regulated by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CTFC).

Antoine Larigaudrie with Pauline Armandet


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