Bank of New York Mellon Corp. , the nation’s oldest bank, is making the leap into the market for cryptocurrencies.
The custody bank said Thursday it will hold, transfer and issue bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies on behalf of its asset-management clients. In time, BNY Mellon will allow those digital assets to pass through the same plumbing used by managers’ other, more traditional holdings—from Treasurys to technology stocks—using a platform that is now in prototype. The bank is already discussing plans with clients to bring their digital currencies into the fold.
“Digital assets are becoming part of the mainstream,” said Roman Regelman, chief executive of BNY Mellon’s asset-servicing and digital businesses.
It is a big step for Wall Street’s back-office banks, whose concerns over regulatory, legal and stability risks left them reluctant to come into direct contact with crypto markets. But as prices of bitcoin and other digital assets have continued to rise, they have become more popular with asset managers, hedge funds and other institutional investors.
And those firms’ top executives started asking BNY Mellon and their peers to treat digital assets as they would their other holdings, Mr. Regelman said.