Morgan Stanley is Building a Bitcoin Swap Trading Product

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Another of the world’s largest investment banks is quietly building a product that will allow its clients to trade bitcoin, at least indirectly.

Citing a person familiar with the matter, Bloomberg reports that Morgan Stanley, the sixth-largest bank in the U.S. by assets, is creating a proprietary derivatives product that will give traders “synthetic exposure” to the price of bitcoin.

From the report:

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“The U.S. bank will deal in contracts that give investors synthetic exposure to the performance of Bitcoin, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. Investors will be able to go long or short using the so-called price return swaps, and Morgan Stanley will charge a spread for each transaction, the person said.”

The report further indicated that Morgan Stanley, whose CEO — James Gorman — said earlier this year that the firm won’t let customers trade cryptocurrency directly through the bank, is “technically prepared” to begin offering these bitcoin swaps, pending the completion of an internal approval process and demand from institutional investors.

Morgan Stanley had poached Credit Suisse’s “bitcoin expert,” Andrew Peel, to head its new crypto division.

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The bank joins a growing number of major financial institutions that are said to be evaluating how best to integrate cryptocurrencies into their institutional product lines. Both Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, the fourth- and fifth-largest U.S. banks, respectively, plan to offer bitcoin derivatives products to their clients. JPMorgan has reportedly also begun exploring ways to help its clients invest in cryptocurrency, despite the fact that CEO Jamie Dimon has been one of bitcoin’s most vocal critics.

Meanwhile, Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), the operator of the world’s largest stock exchange, will soon launch the first physically-delivered bitcoin futures product, meaning that contracts will be settled in actual BTC rather than cash (as is the case with the bitcoin futures products currently available on Chicago-based exchanges CME and CBOE).

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