BlackRock‘s move into crypto fits into the asset management giant’s broader mission of creating products that are easy to use and cheap for investors, CEO Larry Fink said Friday.
“We believe we have a responsibility to democratize investing. We’ve done a great job, and the role of ETFs in the world is transforming investing. And we’re only at the beginning of that,” Fink said on “Squawk on the Street.”
BlackRock applied for a spot bitcoin ETF on June 15, which appeared to spur a rally in cryptocurrencies and a flurry of similar filings from other asset managers. The initial filing for the iShares Bitcoin Trust did not include a management fee.
The Securities and Exchange Commission has previously rejected dozens of applications for similar funds, but BlackRock’s involvement and the proposed surveillance sharing agreement in the filing is seen by many in the crypto industry as a sign that momentum is shifting.
“We are working with our regulators because, as in any new market, if BlackRock’s name is going to be on it, we’re going to make sure that it’s safe and sound and protected,” Fink said.
Fink had previously been critical of crypto, saying in 2017 that the popularity of digital currencies was do in large part to money laundering.
However, interest from clients and the high cost of transactions motivated BlackRock to take a closer look at entering the space, Fink said. He also added that crypto can serve a diversification role in investor portfolios.
“It has a differentiating value versus other asset classes, but more importantly, because it’s so international it’s going to transcend any one currency,” Fink said.
The CEO declined to discuss the spot bitcoin ETF directly, saying he is prohibited from doing so while the filing is with the SEC.
BlackRock reported its second-quarter results on Friday, earning $9.28 in adjusted earnings per share on $4.46 billion in revenue. The company said it now has more than $9 trillion in assets under management.