News of another bank coming forward against bitcoin has surfaced once again. This time, it’s the American bank Merrill Lynch who announced that it was banning bitcoin-related trading and investing for its advisors and clients. The bank revealed that financial advisors are not allowed to accept orders from its customers to trade in the Grayscale Bitcoin Investment Trust, which is a bitcoin specialized fund created and managed by Barry Silbert. This internal order was given to more than 17,000 financial advisors, across the bank.
The Grayscale Bitcoin Investment Trust (GBTC) is used to trade bitcoin on Wall Street. The bank has also hinted that they are banning bitcoin futures trading for its customers. This news comes days after CBOE and CME group have launched bitcoin futures trading. This week, E-trade Financial, an online stock brokerage company, launched trading on CME bitcoin futures for its customers. This indicates that some banks are pushing in favor of bitcoin, while others stay cautious and choose not to.
This is not the first time a major bank has openly been against its clients investing in bitcoin or any other cryptocurrencies. Back in December 2017, the Futures Industry Association, comprising of multiple UK and U.S. banks, urged to be cautious about the transparency issues of cryptocurrencies and discussed potential risks of futures trading. In Australia, four major banks have reportedly been shutting down or freezing accounts if customers tried to invest in cryptocurrency, or if they transferred funds to cryptocurrency exchanges. All around the world, banks are increasingly keeping an eye on bitcoin as it is gaining traction amongst investors. The appeal of decentralization is growing amongst individuals. There is a strong desire from customers to personally and privately own their assets without going through banks or financial organizations.
The upcoming year could be crucial for bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, as banks and financial organizations will decide which side they will choose. Will bans and regulations increase or will facilitation and acceptation prevail?
TLDR: Merrill Lynch bans bitcoin-related investments and trading for its customers and financial advisors. This adds to the numerous banks who have come out against bitcoin and prevented their customers from investing in the cryptocurrency.