Tesla's Bitcoin Buy May Not Trigger Wave of Corporate Demand, Says JPMorgan

Bitcoin's price volatility may put corporates off from emulating Tesla's decision to invest in the cryptocurrency.

AccessTimeIconFeb 10, 2021 at 10:39 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 12:09 p.m. UTC

While crypto traders foresee major corporates copying Tesla's decision to invest in bitcoin, investment bank JPMorgan suggests otherwise.

"The main issue with the idea that mainstream corporate treasurers will follow the example of Tesla is the volatility of bitcoin," JPMorgan strategists led by Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou wrote in a note reported by Bloomberg on Wednesday.

Tesla, the Fortune 500 electric car maker headed by Elon Musk, disclosed its bitcoin investments worth $1.5 billion on Monday, sending the cryptocurrency to fresh record highs above $48,000. Crypto traders expect other corporates to follow suit, arguing Tesla has validated bitcoin's appeal as a reserve asset.

However, according to JPMorgan's strategists, a corporate portfolio's risk levels would rise significantly even with a small exposure to bitcoin, and that could keep other companies from buying in.

"Corporate treasury portfolios are typically stuffed with bank deposits, money market funds, and short-dated bonds, meaning that annualized volatility – or the range of swings during the course of a year – hovers around 1%," JPMorgan wrote, adding that a 1% bitcoin exposure would cause a significant increase in a portfolio's volatility to as much as 8%.

The bank's strategists, however, acknowledged the positive impact of Tesla investment on the bitcoin market. "There is no doubt that this week's announcement changed abruptly the near-term trajectory for bitcoin by bolstering inflows and by helping bitcoin to break out above $40k," they said.

JPMorgan had turned bearish on bitcoin last month following the cryptocurrency's failure to keep gains above $40,000. Bitcoin spent three weeks in the $30,000–$40,000 range after setting the then-lifetime high of $41,962 on Jan. 8.

The breakout from that range came Monday following Tesla's announcement. At press time, bitcoin is changing hands near $46,842, little changed over 24 hours.


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