Fidelity Investments will allow investors to allocate part of their 401(k)s into bitcoin later this year, The Wall Street Journal first reported.
Fidelity, which manages employee benefit programs for nearly 23,000 businesses, is set to become the first major retirement-plan provider to allow bitcoin exposure in retirement accounts. The company has $2.7 trillion in assets under management in its retirement services division alone.
“There is a need for a diverse set of products and investment solutions for our investors,” Dave Gray, Fidelity’s head of workplace retirement offerings and platforms, told WSJ. “We fully expect that cryptocurrency is going to shape the way future generations think about investing for the near term and long term.”
The plan is to let investors allocate up to 20% of their retirement accounts to bitcoin, however, plan sponsors could end up lowering that threshold at their discretion. Gray told WSJ the offering would be limited to bitcoin and not contemplate other cryptocurrencies from the start.
"The DAA is a custom plan account that holds bitcoin and short-term money market investments to provide the liquidity needed for the account to facilitate daily transactions on behalf of the investor," according to the release. "Bitcoin in the DAA will be held on the Fidelity Digital Assets custody platform to ensure institutional-grade security."
The Boston-based firm’s move comes on the heels of cautionary comments by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) in regards to adding bitcoin exposure to retirement plans.
In a March blog post, the acting assistant secretary of the DOL’s Employee Benefits Security Administration, Ali Khawar, said the department had “serious concerns about plans’ decisions to expose participants to direct investments in cryptocurrencies,” citing “serious risks” such exposure can bring, including valuation concerns, obstacles to making informed decisions, price volatility, and a yet unclear regulatory landscape in the country. The department argued U.S. President Biden’s recent executive order on Bitcoin, cryptocurrency and central bank digital currency (CBDC) highlights those risks.
Despite the risks perceived by the DOL, Gray told WSJ that Fidelity has seen “growing and organic interest from clients” – especially those with younger employees.
In addition to being able to transfer up to 20% of their account balances to a Bitcoin account in Fidelity’s trading and custody platform, workers at companies that sign up for the new offering will also be able to invest up to the same amount of each payroll contribution to bitcoin.
Fidelity launched a spot bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) in Canada in December after frustrated attempts to list such a product in the U.S. as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) keeps blocking offerings that directly invest in the asset.
UPDATE (Apr 26, 2022 - 9:19 a.m. ET): Adds information from the press release throughout.