BlackRock has authorized two of its funds to invest in bitcoin futures, according to filings released Wednesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The move allows exposure to cryptocurrencies for clients of the world’s largest asset manager for the first time.
The $8.7 trillion asset manager said it could use bitcoin derivatives, among other assets, under the BlackRock Strategic Income Opportunities and the BlackRock Global Allocation Fund.
The funds are only permitted to trade cash-settled bitcoin futures, meaning the holder will receive a simple cash credit once the contract expires. Such settlements do not require physical delivery of the underlying asset.
More specifically, BlackRock’s two funds will trade only in those bitcoin futures that trade on exchanges registered with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. At present, the only exchange registered to do so is the CME. Prospectus documents filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Wednesday indicate that BlackRock Global Allocation Fund Inc. and BlackRock Funds V are at least eyeing bitcoin. They both include the world’s oldest cryptocurrency on their lists of derivative products cleared for use.
BlackRock did not state which commodity exchange it will choose to execute these crypto futures buys. However, the funds may only invest in cash-settled bitcoin futures. CME is the only exchange registered with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) that offers similar futures products at this time. Bitcoin scored an all-time high above $41,000 earlier this month, driven largely by record amounts of money being pumped into economies by governments and central banks to aid relief from the coronavirus crisis. The token was trading around $33,181 on Thursday – a drop of almost 6% on the day.
BlackRock reported assets under management of $8.68 trillion as of December 31. In December, CEO Larry Fink noted that the world’s most popular cryptocurrency is seeing giant moves on a daily basis and could possibly unfold into a global market. Rick Rieder, the firm’s chief investment officer, told Bloomberg shortly after that there is a clear demand for bitcoin and that “it’s going to be part of the asset suite for investors for a long time.”
Not everyone is a fan of cryptocurrencies. US Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen, who previously was head of the Federal Reserve, said earlier this week bitcoin and the like were “mainly” used for illegal activity and their use should be curtailed.