• Former head of firm’s global technology specialist team selected to lead the new initiative
  • Expansion comes a month after custody bank State Street launched a new division focused on the shift to digital finance

Bank of America is set to begin research coverage of cryptocurrency and digital assets, becoming the latest financial institution looking to expand its footprint in the space.

In an internal memo obtained by Blockworks, Candace Browning, the bank’s global head of research, called cryptocurrencies and digital assets “one of the fastest growing emerging technology ecosystems.”

The sector is currently valued at about $2 trillion, inflows to new exchange-traded products are at $50 billion and venture capital firms are making significant investments in crypto and blockchain companies, she added. 

“We are uniquely positioned to provide thought leadership due to our strong industry research analysis, market-leading global payments platform and our blockchain expertise,” Browning wrote in the note to colleagues.

The company has chosen Alkesh Shah to lead the effort, which will cover global cryptocurrency, digital assets and enabling technologies within the space. He will report to Michael Maras, the bank’s head of global fixed income, currencies and commodities research. Mamta Jain and Andrew Moss, who joined Bank of America since 2014 and 2019, respectively, will join Shah on the research team.

Shah, who began working for the company in 2013, will continue delivering the firm’s insights through mobile channels, including Insight Mobile, the Global Banking & Markets content and the CRM app, Browning said in the memo. He previously led the firm’s global technology specialist team.

A spokesperson declined to comment further beyond the memo.

Bank of America’s latest research coverage expansion comes about a month after custody bank State Street, which oversees $40 trillion in assets, launched a new division focused on the shift to digital finance.

State Street CEO Ron O’Hanley said at the time that he expects digital assets to be one of the most significant forces impacting financial services over the next five years.

Goldman Sachs revealed in May that it would offer bitcoin derivatives to clients as well as opening a dedicated trading desk for cryptocurrency. The Wall Street bank continued the expansion of its digital asset offering last month by naming Galaxy Digital the liquidity provider for its bitcoin futures block trades.

  • Ben Strack is a Denver-based reporter covering macro economics, financial services and digital asset management. Prior to joining Blockworks, he covered the asset management industry for Fund Intelligence, and was a reporter and editor for various local newspapers on Long Island. He graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in journalism.