UBS exploring offering cryptocurrencies to wealthy clients

UBS is looking into offering its wealthy clients access to cryptocurrency investments, in the latest example of a large bank moving into the digital currency sector.

The Swiss bank is exploring a number of ways of offering its affluent customers exposure to the asset class, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the matter. The investments are expected to comprise a small part of clients’ overall portfolio due to the volatility of the products, it said.

“We are monitoring the developments in the field of digital assets closely,” UBS said in a statement. “Importantly, we are most interested in the technology which underpins digital assets, namely the distributed ledger technology.”

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A number of large banks are now venturing into the cryptocurrency space, amid an explosion of interest in the sector and rapid increases in the price of digital currencies this year.

Goldman Sachs, which relaunched its crypto trading desk earlier this year, told staff on 7 May that it was extending the offering to non-deliverable forwards, a derivative product linked to bitcoin, confirming what Mathew McDermott, the bank’s global head of digital assets, told Financial News in March.

“We’ve crossed the line now,” he said at the time. “The focus will become broader and so there’ll just be different reasons for why you’d want to be involved with different cryptocurrencies, because of the underlying technology that’s coming.”

Citigroup is also mulling how to offer crypto services to its institutional clients, its global head of foreign exchange Itay Tuchman told the FT. JPMorgan was said to be preparing to offer an actively managed bitcoin-linked fund to select clients this summer, while Morgan Stanley announced in March that it would be launching access to three bitcoin-linked funds.

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