Bank of America has created a team dedicated to researching cryptocurrencies and related technologies, according to an internal memo reviewed by CoinDesk.

Cryptocurrencies and digital assets are “one of the fastest-growing emerging technology ecosystems,” Candace Browning, Bank of America’s head of global research, wrote in the memo, which was first reported by Bloomberg.

“The sector is currently valued at about $2 trillion, inflows to new ETP/ETFs at $50 billion and growing and venture capital firms are making significant investments in crypto/blockchain companies,” she wrote. B of A is “uniquely positioned to provide thought leadership due to our strong industry research analysis, market-leading global payments platform and our blockchain expertise.”

“We are uniquely positioned to provide thought leadership" for crypto, says a Bank of America executive.
(Taylor Simpson / Unsplash, modified by CoinDesk)

Bank of America has flirted with blockchain technology, crypto’s more respectable cousin, for years. In 2018, it filed a patent application for a permissioned, or invite-only, blockchain to record internet-of-things (IoT) node data, one of many such patents pursued by the company, and in 2019, it began hiring for several blockchain positions. 

But Bank of America has been slower than rival megabanks – such as JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs, which recently reopened its crypto trading desk – to wade into crypto. The new crypto research team suggests that things might be changing at the second-largest U.S. bank by assets.

The group will be headed by B of A veteran Alkesh Shah, a founding member of the North Carolina-based bank’s data and innovation strategy group, and will report to Michael Maras, head of the bank’s global fixed-income, currencies and commodities research team.

Danny Nelson contributed reporting.

UPDATE (July 8, 18:30 UTC): Adds more detail from internal B of A memo.

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