JPMorgan Tiptoes Into Crypto

Last month, amid little to no fanfare, JPMorgan made six cryptocurrency funds available to its wealth management clients. Funds available include four increasingly popular funds run by Greyscale Investments, as well as a newly created fund in collaboration with crypto firm NYDIG.

The absence of attention called to this move has been a puzzling one in an industry reliant on word of mouth. Despite being the United States’ largest bank by assets, the opening of these funds is the first break with JPMorgan’s reticence to invest in crypto, and the uncharacteristically quiet fashion in which this change was made bespeaks discomfort with the new currencies. Indeed, JPMorgan Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon has been a vocal detractor of crypto for years, infamously deriding Bitcoin as a “fraud” in 2017 and expressing continued skepticism earlier this year.

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Despite (or perhaps because of) the company’s previous hesitation to enter this market, JPMorgan seems to be content to keep its crypto rollout as quiet as possible for the foreseeable future. Advisors are not permitted to recommend cryptocurrency investments unless they are first asked by a wealth management client, and the NYDIG fund is being restricted to private bank clients.

In a field that has been increasingly dominated by buzz about cryptocurrency, JPMorgan clearly has a great deal of ground to make up. Investors have already had access to crypto investment opportunities with industry competitors Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, and digital-first newcomers like Square and PayPal have already staked a great deal on making crypto available and convenient to their users.