BofA’s Merrill offering spot bitcoin ETFs to clients, source says

By Thomson Reuters Feb 29, 2024 | 2:10 PM

By Niket Nishant and Pritam Biswas

(Reuters) – Bank of America’s Merrill Lynch has been offering spot bitcoin exchange-traded funds to eligible wealth management clients, a source familiar with the matter said on Thursday, highlighting the growing popularity of the asset class.

The ETFs have been available to clients for weeks, the source told Reuters, coming on the heels of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) landmark approval of such investment vehicles in January.

Spot bitcoin ETFs offer investors exposure to the world’s largest cryptocurrency without directly holding it. After a decade-long tussle with the SEC, eleven such ETFs started trading in the United States last month.

The ETFs have opened up the asset class to new investors and reignited the excitement that had evaporated when prices collapsed in the “crypto winter” of 2022.

The growing popularity of such investments has even prompted some investors to swap out holdings in gold-backed ETFs. Bitcoin is often touted as the “digital gold”.

“We remain convinced that bitcoin is on an 18-month path to $150,000 led by unprecedented institutional adoption,” Bernstein analyst Gautam Chhugani said earlier this week. Bitcoin on Wednesday hit $60,000 for the first time in more than two years.

Bloomberg Law reported the news earlier in the day. Its report said Wells Fargo’s brokerage division is also offering access to the ETFs.

Wells Fargo did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

In contrast, Vanguard — the largest provider of mutual funds — said it has no plans to make spot bitcoin ETFs available on its platform to its brokerage clients.

(Reporting by Pritam Biswas and Niket Nishant in Bengaluru; Editing by Shilpi Majumdar)