Merrill Lynch Bars Clients, FAs from Bitcoin Fund Trading

Merrill Lynch Bars Clients, FAs from Bitcoin Fund Trading

The order prevents about 17,000 financial advisors from advertising Bitcoin-based investments and stops clients from trading the Grayscale Bitcoin Investment Trust (GBTC), a product preferred by Merrill Lynch clients, the reports said, citing an anonymous source and an internal memo.

"We look forward to speaking with Merrill Lynch and addressing any questions or concerns they have about the Bitcoin Investment Trust", Silbert told Reuters in an email. A WSJ source said Merrill Lynch put the policy in place on December 8, just two days prior to the launch of bitcoin futures by CBOE.

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.

Grayscale's Bitcoin Investment Trust is an open-ended trust that is invested exclusively in bitcoin and derives its value from the price of bitcoin.

The eligible shares of the Bitcoin Investment Trust started trading under the ticker GBTC in 2015. And UBS does not support or facilitate the trading of cyrptocurrencies, according to a person familiar with the situation. Several other firms - including JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc. and Royal Bank of Canada - told clients that they wouldn't offer them access to the first bitcoin futures market when it went live December 10.

Barry Silbert is a well-known figure in the cryptocurrency industry.

Millions of investors have piled into bitcoin and other digital currencies prompting warnings of a bubble from the likes of JPMorgan Chase Chief Executive Jamie Dimon, who has likened bitcoin to a "fraud" that will eventually blow up.

Bitcoin garnered a lot of interest in 2017, which sent the price surging. Bitcoin was up 1,375% on the year.

At Merrill, advisers have mixed views on the move. Advisers say clients are calling about investing in bitcoin, demand that some advisers want to satisfy. If anything, he said, "I wish we could short it".

Individual retail traders are flooding apps that make it easy to buy and sell things like ethereum or bitcoin. Others think the cryptocurrency carries too much risk and would rather not be involved in it.

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