Speculation Heats Up as Morgan Stanley, UBS Race to Become First Bitcoin ETF Bank

By Ben Knight April 05, 2024 In Banking, Bitcoin, ETF
  • Nobody wants to be left behind as the race to be the first bank to offer customers Spot Bitcoin ETFs has officially begun.
  • Morgan Stanley and UBS are the first two cabs off the rank, with analysts speculating services to go live sometime next week.
  • The banks join an influx of new institutional participants in the crypto sector for the first time, giving more depth and legitimacy to the industry.

Banks and Bitcoin together at last? For years, banks tried to convince us all that Bitcoin was the bogeyman. It makes sense why – cryptocurrency threatened the very system upon which their fortunes were built. But finally, banks are coming around to the fact that digital currency is here to stay. And now USD $1.5T (AUD $2.3T) goliaths Morgan Stanley are entering an arms race with UBS to be the first to officially offer clients a Spot Bitcoin ETF.

Related: Bitcoin Spot ETFs Surge, Capturing Close to $200 Billion in Record-Shattering Quarter

Banks to Enter Fray “All at Once”

The introduction of Spot ETFs has changed the crypto game, for good. TradFi institutions had long kept an arm’s length from the blockchain, but once the SEC finally approved crypto funds in the US, the floodgates opened. Apart from billions racing into these ETFs within only a few months of trading, we’ve seen financial giants like BlackRock and Franklin Templeton expand their efforts to more niche sectors, such as tokenisation. 

Bloomberg analyst Eric Balchunas has been permanently on the money with all things ETF related. In a post to X earlier this week, he stated that wirehouses were in a protracted game of “chicken”, where nobody wanted to be the first to add Bitcoin ETFs to their platforms. But once the first domino fell, they’d enter a tussle to “win the race” and provide access to the crypto funds.


Lo and behold, UBS signalled its interest in adding Bitcoin ETFs to its platform sometime next week. This did not please the executives at Morgan Stanley, who now have plans to usher in Bitcoin ETFs to their own platform – and have them available before UBS does.

Sitting on the sidelines as a crypto investor, all we have to do is twiddle our thumbs and watch as more institutional rivalry pours money into the sector. 

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Ben Knight

Ben Knight

Ben Knight is a writer and editor from Melbourne with a passion for all things music and finance. He enjoys turning complex topics – especially the technical details of cryptocurrency – into digestible bites that anybody can understand. He acquired his Master’s in Writing, Editing and Publishing from RMIT in 2019 and has run his own creative writing business ever since.

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