Investment Giant Vanguard Blocks Clients From Buying Bitcoin ETFs

An attempt to purchase BlackRock's iShares Bitcoin Trust (IBIT) and the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) through Vanguard failed.

AccessTimeIconJan 11, 2024 at 6:25 p.m. UTC
Updated Mar 8, 2024 at 7:47 p.m. UTC

Vanguard, one of the largest asset managers in the world, will not be allowing customers to buy the newly approved bitcoin ETFs.

An attempt to invest in BlackRock's iShares Bitcoin Trust (IBIT) or Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) via a Vanguard retirement brokerage account generated a "trade cannot be completed" warning.

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  • Attempts to buy IBIT and GBTC through Vanguard were blocked. (Vanguard)
    Attempts to buy IBIT and GBTC through Vanguard were blocked. (Vanguard)

    "Buy orders are not currently accepted for this security," the message said. "Securities may be unavailable for purchase at Vanguard due to a number of variables including regulatory restrictions, corporate actions, or various trading and/or settlement limitations."

    A Vanguard spokesperson told CoinDesk that "spot Bitcoin ETFs will not be available for purchase on the Vanguard platform" and that it has no plans to offer Vanguard Bitcoin ETFs or other crypto-related products. The spokesperson said the reason behind this decision is that crypto-related products don't align with the asset manager's focus on asset classes that "build blocks of a well-balanced, long-term investment portfolio."

    The Block reported Vanguard's plan to block bitcoin ETFs earlier.

    Vanguard's unfriendliness contrasts with the embrace of bitcoin ETF by some of the company's largest rivals, including BlackRock, Fidelity and Invesco, which have created bitcoin ETFs that started trading Thursday. They won U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission permission to do so on Wednesday.

    Charles Schwab, another brokerage, confirmed Thursday that it's letting customers trade bitcoin ETFs.

    Update (Jan. 11, 2024, 19:07 UTC): Added statement from a Vanguard spokesperson.

    Edited by Nick Baker.

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    Helene Braun

    Helene is a New York-based reporter covering Wall Street, the rise of the spot bitcoin ETFs and crypto exchanges. She is also the co-host of CoinDesk's Markets Daily show. Helene is a graduate of New York University's business and economic reporting program and has appeared on CBS News, YahooFinance and Nasdaq TradeTalks. She holds BTC and ETH.