By Steve Goldstein
BlackRock Chairman and CEO Larry Fink has never been outright dismissive of bitcoin, but he sure sounds more enthusiastic now that his firm, and others, are seeking regulatory approval for a spot bitcoin exchange-traded fund.
"I was skeptical because the early users were — it was heavily used for, let’s say, illicit activities," said Fink in an interview on FOX Business Network that aired Wednesday afternoon.
In 2017, Fink said bitcoin was an "index of money laundering," though his more recent comments have been more positive.
"I think, as it became more accessible — and, also, I do believe the role of crypto is — it is digitizing gold in many ways. Instead of investing in gold as a hedge against inflation, a hedge against the onerous problems of any one country or the devaluation of your currency, whatever country you’re in."
Fink was asked what a spot bitcoin ETF is meant to accomplish. "Right now, the bid-ask spread for crypto is very expensive. It does erode a lot of the returns that you speak about, because it costs a lot of money right now to transact bitcoin, and it costs a lot of money to get out of that. And so we hope the — our regulators look at these filings that it’s a way to democratize crypto."
Bitcoin has climbed past the $30,000 mark — up 15% over the last month — on interest from BlackRock as well as rivals including Fidelity in launching a spot ETF. The Securities and Exchange Commission has yet to approve any of those applications.
Also see:Coinbase stock explodes higher as enthusiasm builds for spot bitcoin ETFs
BlackRock stock (BLK) has slipped 2% this year, underperforming the 16% advance for the S&P 500 .
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