Vanguard Spurns Bitcoin ETF, Schwab Dives Right In, While Merrill Evaluates

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Advisor Perspectives
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When it comes to Bitcoin exchange-traded funds, many investors are discovering that approved does not mean available.

Vanguard Group Inc.’s brokerage arm will not offer trading in ETFs that invest directly in Bitcoin, according to a spokesperson. Bank of America Corp.’s Merrill Edge is still evaluating whether to provide that service, a person familiar with the matter said, asking not to be identified discussing a private matter. UBS Group AG is offering a number of the Bitcoin ETFs to some of its wealth management clients with brokerage accounts who approach it on an unsolicited basis, another person familiar said.

After years of industry speculation, nearly a dozen Bitcoin ETFs won approval from US regulators on Wednesday — with the landmark decision sparking a surge in demand for the vehicles. But even with regulators’ blessing, it’s up to firms whether to offer trading in the Bitcoin-linked products and some may be reluctant to jump into a volatile asset class.

“While we continuously evaluate our brokerage offer and evaluate new product entries to the market, spot Bitcoin ETFs will not be available for purchase on the Vanguard platform. We also have no plans to offer Vanguard Bitcoin ETFs or other crypto-related products,” a Vanguard spokesperson said in an email.

Representatives for Merrill and UBS declined to comment.

Still, some firms are diving in. Charles Schwab Corp. will offer trading in Bitcoin ETFs across exchanges, according to a spokesperson. Robinhood Markets Inc. has started offering the approved spot Bitcoin ETFs, according to a post on its website.

“There’s a validating step to the actual underlying instrument, to all of the regulation and all of the rigor that goes around becoming an ETF,” James Kostulias, Schwab’s head of trading services, said in an interview.

Article by Paige Smith, Katherine Doherty of Bloomberg News, Advisor Perspectives

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