JPMorgan Chase is preparing to offer an actively managed bitcoin fund to certain clients, becoming the latest, largest and – if its CEO’s well-documented distaste for bitcoin is any indication – unlikeliest U.S. mega-bank to embrace crypto as an asset class.
The JPMorgan bitcoin fund could roll out as soon as this summer, two sources familiar with the matter told CoinDesk. Institutional bitcoin shop NYDIG will serve as JPMorgan’s custody provider, a third source said.
JPMorgan’s bitcoin fund will be actively managed, multiple sources told CoinDesk. That’s a notable break from the passive fare offered by crypto industry stalwarts like Pantera Capital and Galaxy Digital, which let well-heeled clients buy and hold bitcoin through funds without ever touching it themselves. Galaxy and NYDIG are now offering bitcoin funds to Morgan Stanley clients.
The JPMorgan fund will be for private wealth clients, a source familiar with the situation told CoinDesk.
The move by JPMorgan marks a sharp turn for the $3 trillion bank.
JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon called bitcoin a dangerous fraud in 2017, threatening then to “fire in a second” any trader who touched the stuff. “If you’re stupid enough to buy it, you’ll pay the price for it one day,” he said at the time.
While he quickly walked back the “fraud” label and has more recently toned down his rhetoric, Dimon, who has repeatedly argued that government regulation of cryptocurrencies is inevitable, maintained late last year that bitcoin is “not my cup of tea.”
Despite its CEO’s personal disdain for the crypto, top deputies within its Corporate and Investment Banking division acknowledged in February that client demand might force the institution to change.
JPMorgan’s hulking investment, commercial banking and wealth management divisions have gradually evolved in their treatment of crypto and blockchain, even if the client-facing bitcoin fund is new. The bank’s research analysts regularly issue market insight on bitcoin’s price and prospects in reports available to clients.
The firm’s Onyx division seeks to speed up interbank payments via blockchain technology and JPM Coin, for example. After five years of quiet development, Onyx is mounting a global hiring campaign for blockchain engineers.
On the Investment Banking side, JPMorgan issued its first crypto-adjacent investment product in March, a structured note tied to the performance of bitcoin proxy stocks like MicroStrategy and Riot Blockchain.
JPMorgan’s new fund product, however, will be its first directly dependent on bitcoin’s performance.
Bank representatives did not respond to CoinDesk’s questions by press time.
Ian Allison contributed reporting.