S&P Dow Jones Indices says it’s decided against introducing cryptocurrency indexes — for now.
With the popularity of bitcoin and other digital currencies, S&P has been receiving requests from customers to build gauges tracking them, Alex Matturri, chief executive officer, said in an interview. But for the time being, at least, the index provider has no plans to offer them.
“Not right now,” Matturri said during a visit to Tokyo last month. But “it’s prudent for us to take a wait-and-see approach.”
S&P regularly receives requests from clients for various types of indexes, and often turns them down, but its final verdict on crypto gauges will probably take longer.
“We have a reputation, we’ve been around a lot of years and we’re not going to tarnish our reputation over just creating a new product idea,” Matturri said. But the concept of cryptocurrencies is interesting and “clearly there is a demand — that’s something worthwhile to keep an eye on.”
One of the key issues for Matturri is the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s attitude toward exchange-traded products based on baskets of cryptocurrencies. In January, the SEC raised a series of investor protection concerns about cryptocurrency mutual and exchange-traded funds, dealing a blow to the investment craze.
“You don’t want an index that somebody is going to use in a product that either manipulates markets or is easily manipulated,” Matturri said. “If it’s meant as a tool for gambling, well, go to Macao or Las Vegas. That’s not what investing is about.”
At the same time, Matturri acknowledges the potential of the technology behind cryptocurrencies, which he says is keeping him from fully dismissing the idea of crypto indexes.
“It’s still got a ways to go before it’s kind of in the mainstream, more legitimized,” Matturri said. “But it could happen quickly. Technology is much more disruptive today than it ever was.”