BlackRock CEO has come a long way on bitcoin since 2017
It’s fair to say that Larry Fink’s views on bitcoin have shifted quite a bit in the last five years
WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM/swiss-image.ch/Photo Moritz Hager, modified by Blockworks (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
The CEO of the world’s largest asset manager likened the world’s largest digital asset, bitcoin, to digital gold in an appearance on Fox Business Wednesday.
Larry Fink said he hopes BlackRock’s bitcoin ETF — should it be approved — could help “democratize” crypto and help investors get exposure to cryptocurrency for “much cheaper.”
But Fink hasn’t always been this optimistic when it comes to bitcoin (BTC).
Long before BlackRock applied for a spot bitcoin ETF, he thought of the digital asset only in terms of its potential to facilitate money laundering.
“Bitcoin just shows you how much demand for money laundering there is in the world,” Fink said in October 2017 at an Institute of International Finance meeting.
“That’s all it is,” he said. Bitcoin would go on to reach an all-time high at the time of around $19,700 two months later.
He wasn’t nearly as harsh as JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon, however. Around the same time as Fink’s money laundering comments, Dimon called people who own any form of crypto “stupid” and said bitcoin was a “fraud.”
Less than a year later, Fink’s attitude on bitcoin, crypto and blockchain were already beginning to moderate.
In July 2018, he told Reuters that BlackRock is “a big student of blockchain,” but that he personally didn’t see “huge demand for cryptocurrencies.”
The day Reuters published that interview, July 16, 2018, the high price of bitcoin (BTC) was $6,741.75.
Fast forward to the beginning of December 2020, when bitcoin was pushing $20,000 for the second time in its history, Fink again changed his tune.
“Bitcoin has caught the attention and the imagination of many people. Still untested, pretty small relative to other markets,” he said. “Can it evolve into a global market? Possibly.”
It appears that possibility has turned into a reality in mid 2023, with BlackRock and a litany of other firms now filing for spot bitcoin ETFs in a bid to capitalize on an industry with $1.19 trillion market cap.
His firm’s future involvement in offering crypto spot products is entirely dependent on the SEC’s approval. BlackRock and other entrants have now tapped Coinbase as part of their surveillance-sharing agreements in part to assuage the SEC’s fears about a lack of information about them.
BlackRock also plans to have Coinbase serve as its crypto custodian for its iShares Bitcoin Trust.
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