Congress hates it. The regulator does not know how to deal with it.
But Tim Hockey, chief executive of online broker TD Ameritrade, said that cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin have attracted the interest of more and more investors who want to trade such assets.
Hockey, 56, said in an interview: "Customers have such needs."
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Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies were created by computer programmers rather than central banks such as the Federal Reserve. In theory, these digital tokens can be used as an online payment form or a means of value storage.
However, since Facebook announced last month that it will launch its own digital currency Libra as early as next year, digital currency has begun to receive close attention from US lawmakers. At the two-day hearing in Washington last week, the top legislature overseeing the financial industry questioned a senior executive about the social networking company's plan.
Maxine Waters, chairman of the US House Financial Services Committee and a California Democrat, even accused Facebook of trying to build a new global financial system that would compete with the dollar and possibly weaken the dollar.
However, in OC Ameritrade's Hockey's view, active investors do not seem to be affected by this panic, they are always seeking to profit from the new asset class.
Although the price of Bitcoin, the most popular cryptocurrency, has fluctuated widely in recent years, it is still profitable for investors who can grasp the timing. According to QKL123, bitcoin prices have nearly tripled this year and are currently around $9,700.
“Especially considering the discussion around Libra and the bitcoin bounce, interest in Bitcoin has risen again.”
In an interview, Hockey talked about the cryptocurrency market. The Nebraska-based company announced Monday night that Hockey plans to resign as CEO in February 2020.
TD Ameritrade customers can purchase Bitcoin futures contracts on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), and investors can easily purchase company stocks that specialize in cryptocurrency.
So far, the brokerage company has not provided cryptocurrency trading services directly to customers.
Hockey said the company hopes to enter this emerging market in a step-by-step manner.
“Either Libra or cryptocurrency, there is a lot of regulatory review. We want to be able to participate, but we want to be able to deal with the risks faced by our customers and ourselves, because there is still a lot of controversy at this stage of cryptocurrency.”
Last year, TD Ameritrade acquired a stake in ErisX, a digital asset trading platform. Earlier this month, ErisX announced that it had obtained a derivative clearing house license from the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) in addition to the contract market license held since 2011.
Hockey pointed out that "our investment in ErisX may, to some extent, allow us" to directly trade cryptocurrencies.
But for many of TD Ameritrade's customers, this doesn't seem to be fast enough.