BlackRock, the world’s leading asset manager, took a first step towards Bitcoin by adding the virtual currency to the list of financial products in which it could invest, giving it a little more legitimacy in the process.
According to documents sent on Wednesday to the Financial Markets Authority, two funds managed by the company now have the opportunity to invest in Bitcoin, a virtual currency currently experiencing very high volatility.
The company, headed by former broker Larry Fink, would thus be exposed for the first time to cryptomony, a BlackRock spokesman confirmed to AFP.
But the group remains cautious for the time being.
BlackRock would only bet on futures contracts based on cryptography that can be converted into dollars and traded on a platform of the company CME, where a whole range of financial products are exchanged.
The company has been driven by demand from some investors, but continues to view the virtual currency as a speculative asset and does not currently plan to open up to other cryptosystems, said a source close to BlackRock.
The group, which manages a total of 8677 billion dollars in assets on behalf of pension funds, high net worth individuals, sovereign wealth funds and local authorities, highlights in the documents the persistent risks associated with investments in Bitcoin.
The virtual currency created by anonymous individuals and managed by a decentralised network is particularly volatile and its price is not always easy to determine, BlackRock warns in particular.
It has soared in recent months to over 40 000 dollars per unit in early January, before falling back to around 31 000 dollars at present.
The company also points out that bitcoin is not immune to regulatory changes.
Janet Yellen, Joe Biden’s future Secretary of the Treasury, estimated on Tuesday during a hearing before the Senate that cryptomoney was « principalement utilisées » for the financing of illicit activities and that it represented a « préoccupation particulière ».
The government, she added, must examine ways to limit their use and ensure that they do not become a means of laundering dirty money.