Bank of America Corp. has put together a new team of researchers, led by Alkesh Shah, to look into cryptocurrencies.
The cryptocurrency research team that Bank of America (BoA) has created comes as interest in digital assets continues to rise across the globe. Bloomberg reported that a memo was obtained by Insider that had been sent to Merrill Lynch Wealth Management employees and partners. Dated July 8, the memo was written by Candace Browning, head of global research at BoA.
An excerpt from Browning’s memo read, “Cryptocurrencies and digital assets constitute one of the fastest-growing emerging technology ecosystems. We are uniquely positioned to provide thought leadership due to our strong industry research analysis, market-leading global payments platform, and our blockchain expertise.”
When asked by Bloomberg, a spokeswoman for BoA confirmed the memo and its contents
The team will be led by Alkesh Shah, a former head of the global technology specialist team at the Bank of America who joined the company in 2013. Before BoA, Shah worked at Morgan Stanley and Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. Shah will be joined by members of Merrill Lynch’s digital innovation group, Mamta Jain and Andrew Moss, as part of the research team.
Jain has experience in digital strategy for global markets, while Moss is a vice president in the bank’s data and innovation group. Shah and the research team will report directly to Michael Maras, head of fixed-income, global currencies, and commodities research at the bank.
Banks taking notice of cryptocurrencies
It feels like a long time coming, but traditional banks are finally looking into the world of cryptocurrencies. Some have even begun to offer services based on crypto trading or wealth-management products for digital assets.
Furthermore, a number of big-name banks, including JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs, and Chase have started to offer trading in cryptocurrency futures and offered price targets north of $100,000.
Even the nation’s oldest bank, Bank of New York Mellon Corp. (BNY Mellon) announced its plans to offer crypto custody to clients. The bank also announced its plan to integrate digital currencies into its legacy systems in the long term.
BYN Mellon joined a number of international banks that have gotten into the crypto game over the last year, including Banca Generali, Italy’s largest bank.
Not all the attention has been positive from Bank of America. Some analysts at BoA have criticized cryptos for their extreme volatility. Even their CEO Brian Moynihan testified that “We do not lend against cryptocurrencies and do not bank companies whose primary business is a cryptocurrency or the facilitation of cryptocurrency trading and investment.”