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2018.01.0406:58:00UTC+00Merrill Lynch Says No To Bitcoin

Merrill Lynch has banned its clients and financial advisers from buying bitcoin-related investments due to concerns over the investment standard of the cryptocurrency and related products, reports said Wednesday, citing an internal memo circulated among the firm's brokers and clients.

The ban covers all accounts and prevents the brokerage firm's roughly 17,000 advisers from pitching bitcoin-linked investments and executing client request to trade the Grayscale's Bitcoin Investment Trust, or GBTC, the Wall Street Journal and Reuters reported citing an unnamed source.

The decision to ban new purchases of GBTC was driven by "concerns pertaining to suitability and eligibility standards of this product", the memo said.

The Bank of America's brokerage arm had put the ban in place on December 8, just before the launch of the first US bitcoin futures.

Further, the memo said clients with existing positions in bitcoin and related investments can maintain them, but those with fee-based accounts must sell their holdings.

Bitcoin Investment Trust is run by Grayscale Investments that was founded by a prominent cryptocurrency supporter Barry Silbert. The fund is traded in the over-the-counter market.

In the past 12 months, the fund gave a return of over 1,565 percent versus bitcoin's 1,336 appreciation.

Traditional finance is yet to welcome bitcoin entirely into the mainstream though the Chicago exchanges have started futures trading in the digital currency. Many prominent bankers such as JP Morgan's Jamie Dimon has called it a "fraud" and warned that it is an investment bubble waiting to burst anytime.

The price of Bitcoin was $14,615.38 as of 5 am ET on Thursday, according to coinbase.

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