CEO of Financial Services Giant Charles Schwab Calls Cryptocurrencies ‘Hard to Ignore’

“We would welcome the chance if the opportunity presents itself from a regulatory standpoint,” said Charles Schwab’s CEO on Wednesday

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Charles Schwab headquarters, San Francisco. Credit: Shutterstock

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key takeaways

  • Charles Schwab’s CEO said crypto is “hard to ignore” and would welcome the opportunity to trade the asset if the “opportunity presents itself from a regulatory standpoint”
  • The CEO also said there was a “tremendous void” in the crypto space for a firm like Schwab to fill

In another sign of growing institutional interest in crypto, the CEO of financial services behemoth Charles Schwab gave a rare insight into how his firm is thinking about the nascent asset class.

During an interview with Bloomberg on Wednesday, Walt Bettinger said cryptocurrencies are “hard to ignore” and that in today’s world they are “fairly significant.”

“We have a lot of ways that clients today can invest in crypto. What we don’t offer is direct trading. We would welcome the chance if the opportunity presents itself from a regulatory standpoint,” said Bettinger amid a raft of questions ranging from the Covid-19 pandemic to remote working.

Regulation in the US has made significant headway in recent years. Yet a patchwork of regulatory measures and guidance still looms, giving pause to some of the world’s largest financial firms to enter into the space. Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden looks poised to increase oversight on Wall Street and crypto activity in what could create a clearer runway for the bigger players.

Charles Schwab is one of the world’s largest financial services firms with assets under management of over $7.5 trillion and revenue of around $11.69 billion, according to a recent Q3, 2020 quarterly report. Its services range from banking and investing as well as wealth management advisory.

“There’s a tremendous void in that space today for a firm like Schwab,” said Bettinger before pointing out that crypto’s transaction costs in trading were “exceptionally high” as well as its spreads.

A spread refers to the difference between the bid price and asking prices of a security or asset.

Bettinger’s comments echo sentiments already acted upon by the world’s largest asset manager BlackRock, which leaped at the opportunity last year to take a stake in two bitcoin miners, Marathon Digital Holdings and Riot Blockchain.

The move follows one by another large financial services firm, Fidelity Investments, which took stakes in the two miners.

BlackRock’s CEO Larry Fink said, in October, “huge opportunities” existed in crypto and bitcoin is “going to help consumers worldwide,” although he fell short of predicting where the asset class would sit in the long term.


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