Merrill Lynch Bans Clients from Investing in Bitcoin Fund

Merrill Lynch, the brokerage arm of Bank of America, has blocked financial advisers and clients from trading in bitcoin-related investments.

AccessTimeIconJan 4, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 7:20 a.m. UTC
10 Years of Decentralizing the Future
May 29-31, 2024 - Austin, TexasThe biggest and most established global hub for everything crypto, blockchain and Web3.Register Now

Merrill Lynch, the brokerage arm of Bank of America, has blocked financial advisers and clients from trading in bitcoin-related investments.

The ban extends to clients trading in Grayscale's Bitcoin Investment Trust, a fund led by bitcoin entrepreneur Barry Silbert. The decision to block access to the fund was due to concerns about the "suitability and eligibility standards of this product," an internal memo circulated to approximately 17,000 advisers states.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the bank has extended a ban on recently launched bitcoin futures contracts. A WSJ source said Merrill Lynch put the policy in place on Dec. 8, just two days prior to the launch of bitcoin futures by CBOE.

The source also said that existing bitcoin funds cannot be held in fee-based advisory accounts, but can be maintained in brokerage accounts.

Silbert, a former Wall Street investment banker, told Reuters:

"We look forward to speaking with Merrill Lynch and addressing any questions or concerns they have about the Bitcoin Investment Trust. We are unaware of any similar policies at other brokerage firms."

The Futures Industry Association (FIA) published an open letter to the CFTC before the launch of bitcoin futures, airing concerns over the process in which cryptocurrency futures have come to market. Big banks and brokers including JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, and Royal Bank of Canada have all denied clients access to bitcoin futures, the WSJ report says.

Disclosure: Grayscale Investments is a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, CoinDesk's parent company.

Merrill Lynch image via Shutterstock


Please note that our privacy policy, terms of use, cookies, and do not sell my personal information has been updated.

The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, institutional digital assets exchange. Bullish group is majority owned by; both groups have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary, and an editorial committee, chaired by a former editor-in-chief of The Wall Street Journal, is being formed to support journalistic integrity.

Learn more about Consensus 2024, CoinDesk's longest-running and most influential event that brings together all sides of crypto, blockchain and Web3. Head to to register and buy your pass now.