Mati Greenspan, a prominent crypto analyst, sparked a bit of a kerfuffle this morning when he “jumped the gun” by announcing TD Ameritrade’s entrance into the retail Bitcoin market.
The error caused Twitter to erupt, particularly after news outlets started reporting the year-old story.
TD Ameritrade is an online brokerage house which focuses on traditional financial assets, although it does also provide Bitcoin futures trading for specific clients – and has since 2018.
Despite the #FakeNews hiccup and Greenspan’s subsequent apology, it appears that the brokerage might be considering a retail Bitcoin product after all.
Speaking with TheStreet , outgoing CEO Tim Hockey confirmed that there’s a growing demand for the flagship cryptocurrency:
“But cryptocurrencies like bitcoin are drawing increasing interest from investors, and they want to trade it. Clients are asking for it.”
For now, select TD Ameritrade clients can trade Bitcoin futures. These derivatives tend to add complexity to Bitcoin trading since you’re typically not actually buying or selling cryptocurrency but rather a product based on the underlying price. They also tend to be settled in cash – not crypto.
Furthermore, the company requires at least $25,000 for a Bitcoin futures account. And as we know, cryptocurrency largely remains a retail-driven phenomenon where even a few bucks can get you some of your favorite coins.
The company already provides direct or spot trading, as it’s more commonly known, for traditional fiat currencies like the U.S. dollar, British pound and the Mexican peso. Adding Bitcoin to the mix would require overcoming some regulatory hurdles.
Now is probably not the best timing for launching a direct cryptocurrency product, particularly as Facebook’s Libra takes the spotlight. After the congressional hearings last week, many are asking, is Libra friend or foe?
So far it appears that politicians prefer Bitcoin to the social networking giant’s alternative. But that isn’t necessarily a green light for the BTC “flood gates” to open either, as Greenspan initially speculated:
Bitcoin volatility remains high, making it a very attractive option to speculators. But it also increases the risks dramatically.
That and the financial grey area that cryptocurrencies currently find themselves in makes the going slow, according to Hockey:
“There is a lot of regulatory scrutiny, whether it be for Libra or crypto generally. We would like to be able to participate, but we want to be comfortable with the risk to our clients and ourselves in a world where crypto has still got lots of debate about a number of items that we’re all hearing about.”
Even so, the company already invested in a trading platform for digital assets called ErisX. The platform has so far been given the go-ahead for futures.
What about Bitcoin trading in retail TD Ameritrade accounts, though? Well, that may take a while.
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