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Morgan Stanley Joins Goldman Sachs in Clearing Bitcoin Futures

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Morgan Stanley has been clearing Bitcoin futures contracts for big institutional clients and convenes a regular meeting of executives to consider how else to engage with cryptocurrencies, Chief Financial Officer Jonathan Pruzan said.

“If someone wants to do a trade on the futures and settle in cash, we’ll do that,” Pruzan said Thursday in a telephone interview. “I wouldn’t say it’s been a lot of activity, but it’s for core institutional clients who want to participate in a derivatives transaction.”

Morgan Stanley joins rival Goldman Sachs Group Inc. as the only major Wall Street firms known to offer the service to clients.

Last month, Bitcoin took a step into the realm of regulated finance with the launch of futures contracts on exchanges from Cboe Global Markets Inc. and CME Group Inc.

Goldman Sachs demanded some clients set aside funds equal to the full value of their Bitcoin futures trade as a condition for clearing the transaction, deterring some customers, Bloomberg reported in December.

Pruzan declined to say how much Morgan Stanley required, but said that the volatility of an asset class was a factor in setting margin levels.

While executives have been “monitoring very closely” whether or not to get involved with market-making or custody of cryptocurrencies, the firm has so far decided not to, he said.