Morgan Stanley CEO: ‘I don’t think crypto is a fad’

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Morgan Stanley Chief Executive Officer James Gorman is staying respectful of cryptocurrencies.

Photo by Bloomberg Mercury

“I don’t think crypto is a fad. I don’t think it’s going to go away,” he said on the bank’s third-quarter earnings call with analysts Thursday morning. “I don’t know what the value of Bitcoin should or shouldn’t be. But these things aren’t going away, and the blockchain technology supporting it is obviously very real and powerful.”

That sets him up as a foil to rival Jamie Dimon, who runs JPMorgan Chase & Co. “I personally think that Bitcoin is worthless,” Dimon said this week at the Institute of International Finance annual membership meeting. He added that clients are “adults” and that the firm can give them “clean as possible access.”

Citigroup Inc. boss Jane Fraser struck a similar note this week: “We’re fairly cautious around crypto as a bank. We proceed with great caution on that one as to where the value is and isn’t,” she said. “I am frankly much more excited about the technologies behind crypto than some of the products themselves.”

In September, Morgan Stanley said Sheena Shah will lead a new team researching cryptocurrencies. On the earnings call, Gorman added that the firm isn’t directly trading crypto for retail clients, instead giving them access to buy crypto through various funds. “For us, honestly, it’s just not a huge part of the business demand from our clients. And that may evolve and we’ll evolve with it,” he said. “We’re watchful of it, we’re respectful, and we’ll wait and see how the regulators handle it.”

— By Max Abelson with assistance from Nabila Ahmed and Zijia Song

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