Financial services for cryptocurrency holders have been growing as a subset of the fintech industry for years. Now, crypto 401(k)s are entering the mix.
A small 401(k) provider called ForUsAll is now allowing participants to allocate up to 5% of their retirement funds into cryptocurrency.
The offering includes 50 different crypto assets including bitcoin, which will be custodied and managed by Coinbase Institutional. The company has not said how many of its employer customers have signed up for the offering since its launch earlier this week.
Making bitcoin available through 401(k)s is a way to give retail investors easy and accessible exposure, CEO Jeff Schulte said on CNBC’s “Power Lunch” Thursday afternoon.
“We’ve seen in the last few years a huge sea change in the investment world,” he said. “Institutional investors are increasingly using cryptocurrency as part of their portfolios, you see Harvard, Brown, Yale all including cryptocurrency in their endowments. Unfortunately most Americans don’t have access to the same types of assets.”
The offering comes amid an active week for bitcoin’s price, which took a 10% dip earlier in the week but has bounced back and briefly touched $37,000 before returning to the $36,000 range. Many are still skeptical that bitcoin can serve as a reliable store of value given its price volatility, even with the consumer prices rising higher, faster than they have in years.
“It’s not that the jury is out, but the verdict is in: holding between 0-5% of cryptocurrency as part of a well diversified portfolio has the opportunity to increase expected growth without materially increasing volatility so we think it does have a role to play,” Schulte said, adding that 60% of “all professional managers” say crypto now has a role to play in their portfolios.
There are $6.7 trillion in 401(k) plans as of the end of 2020, according to the Investment Company Institute, representing about a fifth of the $34.9 trillion U.S. retirement market.
ForUsAll manages $1.7 billion worth of assets for 70,000 employees.
“The 401(k) industry is typically slow to move,” Schulte said. “The fact that we’re a smaller player allows us to see what’s happening in the market, recognize the trends that are absolutely irrefutable and take a position as a leader because we think the time is right. Bringing access to these types of investments to all Americans is not just appropriate, but it’s proper.”
ForUsAll says it’s the first company to offer crypto in 401(k)s. Other companies are working on crypto retirement offerings, including Kingdom Trust, which offers a hybrid self-service retirement platform where investors can buy, sell or hold stocks, ETFs and crypto assets in a single tax-advantaged account.