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Charles Schwab will offer cryptocurrency trading access only if and when there is greater regulatory clarity, according to chief executive officer Walt Bettinger.

Once regulations are clear, Schwab would look forward to being able to offer direct trading, subject to all appropriate regulatory oversight, for our clients, Bettinger said during the firms fall business update.

There are other ways to gain cryptocurrency access on its platform, Bettinger noted.

Schwab offers five trusts and a large cap fund from Grayscale Investments, a trust from Osprey Funds and an index fund from Bitwise, according to its website. Clients with a futures account can also trade Bitcoin futures, while others can gain indirect exposure to cryptocurrency due to the relationship of a company such as Coinbase to digital assets, the website shows.

Bettinger stressed that his view on cryptocurrency is no different than any other investment.

In terms of crypto as an investment, I dont have any opinion on that any more than I do an opinion on any other item that prices based on supply and demand, whether it be art or baseball cards, he said.

The Schwab Center for Financial Research notes that Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are speculative investments.

Bitcoin doesnt fit within traditional asset allocation models, as it is neither a traditional commodity, such as gold, nor a traditional currency. Bitcoins dramatic volatility is driven primarily by supply and demand, not inherent value. Bitcoin doesnt have earnings or revenues. It doesnt have a price-to-earnings ratio, price-to-sales ratio, or book value. Traditional value metrics dont apply, so there are no methods for assessing its value that we endorse or find persuasive beyond the trading value, the Schwab Center writes in a Bitcoin FAQ.

Nevertheless, in the 13 years since the underpinnings of Bitcoin were first described, the cryptocurrency market has developed beyond an initial experimental phase and continued to mature as a new, unique, and sizable asset class, it added.

TD Ameritrade, new Schwab president

Meanwhile, Schwab chief financial officer Peter Crawford said the firm is working toward a “successful TD Ameritrade client conversion in 2023.”

He said Schwab has “achieved roughly 40%” of the $1.8 billion to $2 billion of expense synergies “in the first year post-legal day one.” Schwab’s $26 billion acquisition of TD Ameritrade closed on Oct. 6, 2020.

“Wed expect to realize roughly a third or so on a runway basis between that period and client conversion and then maybe the last third or so at client conversion and the months following,” Crawford said.

Bettinger also shared the reasoning behind Schwabs recent promotion of Rick Wurster to president a role Bettinger previously held.

When I assumed the dual role of president and CEO in 2008, Schwab was a vastly different company, Bettinger said.

Schwabs market cap was just 10% to 15% of its current value and its workforce, revenue and earnings were a fraction of what they are today, so regulatory oversight was relatively simple and straightforward, Bettinger added. Today it makes sense to begin allocating some of the duties that Ive carried for the last 13 or 14 years to a colleague.

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