In a recent interview at the Fortune Global Forum in Abu Dhabi, Jenny Johnson, President and CEO of Franklin Templeton, shared her insights with Anna Tutova, CEO of Coinstelegram. Franklin Templeton, which has evolved from a small brokerage in 1947 to managing over $1.3 trillion, is making significant strides in blockchain technology and cryptocurrency.
Franklin Templeton is a global investment management organization known for its mutual funds and investment services. It was founded in New York in 1947 by Rupert H. Johnson, Sr., and named after American polymath Benjamin Franklin, reflecting the company’s emphasis on frugality and conservatism in investment.
Over the decades, Franklin Templeton has grown into one of the world’s largest asset managers, offering a wide range of investment and advisory services to individuals, institutions, and financial professionals in many countries. The company provides solutions across various asset classes, including equities, fixed income, alternatives, and multi-asset strategies.
Johnson highlighted Franklin Templeton’s active exploration of blockchain technology, including the recent filing for a Franklin Bitcoin ETF. She emphasized the importance of differentiating Bitcoin from blockchain technology, noting blockchain’s potential to democratize private markets by reducing transactional friction. This technology enables easier securitization and transfer of ownership for traditionally hard-to-process assets.
Johnson sees blockchain as a tool for unlocking nontraditional asset classes and making existing financial products more efficient. She mentioned the development of a tokenized money-market fund and a shareholder recordkeeping system built on blockchain, where Franklin Templeton serves as a node validator. She sys that these initiatives demonstrate the firm’s belief in blockchain’s efficiency and potential to prevent fraud and remove latency in financial systems.
Regarding the potential approval of the first spot Bitcoin ETF in the U.S., Johnson stated that the decision lies with regulators focused on consumer protection. She believes there is a demand for Bitcoin and that a spot ETF would offer a more convenient investment method, albeit with challenges in anchoring an investment thesis.
Johnson revealed that she personally invests in cryptocurrency, albeit a small portion of her overall portfolio. Her investments include mainstream choices like Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH), as well as other assets like SushiSwap (SUSHI) and Uniswap (UNI).
When asked about launching other blockchain or crypto-related products, Johnson responded that Franklin Templeton’s role is to make products available as decided by retirement plan fiduciaries. She sees blockchain as a channel to deliver the firm’s expertise in active, risk-adjusted investment decisions.
Johnson discussed the success of Franklin Templeton’s U.S. tokenized money-market fund, which has seen inflows of over $270 million. She anticipates more investment opportunities as blockchain technology matures. Regarding NFTs, Johnson sees potential in certain mature investments but advises caution, likening some aspects of the NFT market to art valuation.
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