Published: Fri, January 12, 2018
Business | By Tara Barton

Merrill Lynch Bars Investing in Bitcoin-Related Products

Merrill Lynch Bars Investing in Bitcoin-Related Products

Ciiting concerns over the cryptocurrency's investment suitability, the financial giant ordered its roughly 17,000 advisers not to pitch bitcoin-related investments or execute client requests to trade the Grayscale Investment Trust bitcoin fund, the paper said.

Advisers managing fee-based accounts must close existing positions, a source told the paper, though Reuters said that non-fee based Merrill Lynch clients with historic positions in BIT can maintain them.

As reported by Reuters, Bank of America Merrill Lynch stopped processing orders for the Bitcoin Investment Trust almost a month ago, on December 8, per a memo that has recently come to light.

Citing a memo, Reuters reported that, as of December 8, Merrill Lynch stopped signing off on new orders for the Bitcoin Investment Trust, citing "suitability and eligibility standards of this product".

Before last month's ban, clients of Merrill Lynch's brokerage and Merrill Edge were able to buy stakes in Bitcoin Investment Trust, which trade at a fraction of a bitcoin. GBTC is invested exclusively in bitcoin and derives its value solely from the price of bitcoin.

It was created for investors seeking exposure to bitcoin through a traditional investment vehicle, and trades over the counter. The U.S. brokerage arm of UBS Group AG already bars its advisers from trading bitcoin-related products, according to a person familiar with the policy. JPMorgan Chief Executive Jamie Dimon famously called bitcoin a "fraud" and warned that he would fire any traders engaged in trading the cryptocurrency.

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The price of Bitcoin started 2017 at under $1000.

In recent trading Wednesday, bitcoin was just under $15,000.

At Merrill, advisers have mixed views on the move.

Merrill Lynch financial advisors can not buy bitcoin-related investments for their clients, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

Individual retail traders are flooding apps that make it easy to buy and sell things like ethereum or bitcoin. The company made an assessment that there's too much risk.

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