Traders' Demand for Bitcoin Is Growing, TD Ameritrade CEO Says

Francisco Memoria

Tim Hockey, the CEO of online brokerage firm TD Ameritrade, has recently confirmed traders’ interest for bitcoin has been on the rise, partly thanks to Facebook’s libra.

Speaking to The Street, the CEO stated the company’s clients are looking forward to being able to trade BTC through it, as cryptocurrencies like bitcoin are “drawing increasing interest from investors, and they want to trade it.”

He added Facebook’s libra has helped interest in bitcoin grow, even as lawmakers questions whether Facebook can be trusted to launch a cryptocurrency. Hockey stated:

Especially given the discussions around Libra and the rebound in bitcoin, there's heightened interest again.

Currently, select TD Ameritrade clients can trade cash-settled Bitcoin futures contracts on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) and buy stocks of companies working on the cryptocurrency space – a move that could have turned out to be a good investment earlier this year.

Even though customers can indirectly invest in bitcoin through futures contracts, TD Ameritrade requires at least $25,000 for a Bitcoin futures account. Since most cryptocurrency enthusiasts are retail investors, the firm likely hasn’t seen large volumes so far.

TD Ameritrade hasn’t so far given its customers a way to buy and sell cryptocurrencies directly, while giving them the option to trade fiat currencies like the U.S. dollar in its platform. The company, Hockey noted, is taking a “crawl, walk, run approach” to the cryptocurrency market.

Hocker added that there’s a lot of regulatory scrutiny “whether it be for Libra or crypto generally.” Per his words, TD Ameritrade would like to serve clients with an appetite for crypto, but wants to be comfortable with it first.

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.

As The Street points out TD Ameritrade bought a stake in cryptocurrency trading platform ErisX, which recently won a license from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) to become a derivatives clearing organization.

Hockey noted its investment may, at some point, allow the online brokerage firm to start letting its customers directly trade cryptocurrencies.