JPMorgan Chase is likely to become the largest US bank to embrace cryptocurrency as an asset class. Plans have been announced that could see the financial institution launch its efforts as early as this summer through the introduction of an actively managed Bitcoin (BTC) fund. The fund has not yet been confirmed on the record by JPMorgan; however, sources close to the company seem to be consistent and credible.
JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon is no fan of digital currency. In 2017, he called BTC a fraud and has even predicted that “someone is going to get killed” in its wake. While the executive still isn’t completely on board, JPMorgan began planning a Bitcoin fund a little more than a year ago for a limited number of its private wealth clients. Client demand for BTC has forced the company into action, just as the bank predicted it would eventually do.
The difference between JPMorgan’s proposed BTC fund and other existing or proposed crypto funds is the fact that the fund would be actively managed. This means that JPMorgan will manage the fund for a fee as it works to achieve higher returns than, for example, a straight investment in BTC or a passively managed Bitcoin ETF (exchange-traded fund) is able to achieve.
It remains to be seen how effective active management of a BTC fund will be; there’s not much evidence that these perform better than passively managed funds. Most other BTC funds (including well-known Grayscale Investments’ massive Bitcoin fund) behave more like ETFs, which is to say that their prices shift in direct correlation with the market’s movement, absent any fund management oversight. JPMorgan, should it introduce its fund, would have to constantly be watching the markets in order to prove that its solution performs better than passive solutions.
It’s likely that it will be more cost-efficient for investors on any level to purchase BTC directly and keep an eye on the digital currency’s price movements. JPMorgan hasn’t discussed how it might work any fees for the fund, but actively managed funds typically have higher costs compared to ETFs or direct investments. This is because the funds manage the buying and selling of several different assets, not just one.
If all goes according to plan, per the sources, JPMorgan’s fund will be the first actively managed fund specific to BTC. This is an unprecedented move that will shake up the digital currency space even more. However, whether an actively managed BTC fund will perform better or be a more economically viable solution remains to be seen.