BlackRock's Fink says cryptocurrencies may become a great asset class- but his institutional clients aren't interested in it

BlackRock's Fink says cryptocurrencies may become a great asset class- but his institutional clients aren't interested in it

April 15, 2021

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  • BlackRock's Larry Fink said that he's fascinated by the idea of cryptocurrencies as an asset class.
  • But the CEO said his institutional clients are largely not interested in investing in it.
  • Many crypto investors have blamed institutional interest in bitcoin as the support behind the latest rally.
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BlackRock's CEO Larry Fink said that he's fascinated by the idea of cryptocurrencies as an asset class, but emphasized that his institutional clients haven't showed much interest in them during a Thursday interview with CNBC.

"I'm encouraged by how many people are focusing on it. I'm encouraged about the narrative. It may become a great asset class, and I do believe this could become a great asset class," Fink told CNBC's Squawk Box.

"I don't want to suggest that we have perfect information, but our broad based client relationships have had… very little inner connectivity on the conversation on crypto," he added.

His insights show a divergence from the dominant narrative that institutional interest has been responsible for the recent surge in bitcoin and cryptocurrencies more broadly. (Though some crypto researchers argue that retail investing had a large role in driving the latest leg of bitcoin's rally.)

Fink said his conversations with institutional clients have focused more on climate risk, deficits, and inflation than cryptocurrencies.

But he also noted that BlackRock's client base doesn't represent the entirety of the market. None of his clients were conversing about GameStop and Reddit, yet those entities represented a major component of financial markets, Fink said.

"I do believe there's components in the financial markets about crypto that are real, that are growing, but if you're asking me specifically about long-term investing from sovereign wealth funds, from pension funds, from retirement services, from big family offices -the conversation about crypto is a very minor conversation compared to so many other conversations."

Although its clients aren't showing widespread interest, BlackRock itself has invested in cryptocurrencies. The firm's investment chief told CNBC last month that BlackRock had begun to "dabble" in bitcoin. In January, the asset manager authorized two of its funds to invest in bitcoin futures for the first time. The two funds are BlackRock Strategic Income Opportunities and BlackRock Global Allocation Fund.

"We've made money on it, but I'm not here to tell you that we are seeing broad-based interest by institutions worldwide," Fink concluded.

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