BlackRock is evaluating cryptocurrencies, CEO says

NEW YORK (Reuters) – BlackRock Inc (BLK.N) Chief Executive Larry Fink on Monday said the world’s largest asset manager has assembled a working group to look at blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin, but cautioned he does not see massive investor demand.

FILE PHOTO: Larry Fink, Chief Executive Officer of BlackRock, takes part in the Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit in New York, U.S., February 8, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

“We are a big student of blockchain,” Fink said in an interview with Reuters. Adding that he doesn’t see “huge demand for cryptocurrencies,” the company has a working group studying it.

FILE PHOTO: The company logo and trading information for BlackRock is displayed on a screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., March 30, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

Any move to invest in cryptocurrencies or to use blockchain by BlackRock would mark a pivot for the company and a major institutional endorsement for the insurgent technology. The company managed $6.3 trillion in assets as of June 30.

Last November, in an interview with Reuters, Fink described bitcoin specifically as a “speculative” investment that thrives because of the cryptocurrency’s anonymity. While he sounded an optimistic tone on blockchain, the technology used to record bitcoin transactions, Fink also noted the digital currency’s association with money laundering.

Some asset managers have been quicker to endorse the potential role of digital currencies. Fidelity Investments, a top BlackRock competitor in the fund management space, for instance has extensively experimented with the technology.

Bitcoin BTC=BTSP was trading up 4 percent at more than $6,600 Monday morning on the Bitstamp exchange, after an initial report describing the working group appeared on the website Financial News late on Sunday. That is still far down from Bitcoin’s all-time peak near $20,000 in late 2017.

Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Nick Zieminski