Fidelity Offers Bitcoin as 401(k) Investment Option
Will become first provider to allow cryptocurrency in 401(k) accounts
By MARK KOLAKOWSKI Published April 26, 2022
Fidelity Investments has become the first retirement plan provider to allow cryptocurrencies in the 401(k) accounts that it services, starting with Bitcoin (BTC). This investment option will become available by mid-2022 to 23,000 employers that use Fidelity to administer their retirement accounts. Since Fidelity has $11.3 trillion in assets under administration (AUA), making it the largest retirement plan provider in the U.S., this move represents a major milestone in the mainstreaming of crypto.1
Dave Gray, head of workplace retirement offerings and platforms at Fidelity stated: "There is growing interest from plan sponsors for vehicles that enable them to provide their employees access to digital assets in defined contribution plans, and in turn from individuals with an appetite to incorporate cryptocurrencies into their long-term investment strategies." Business software provider MicroStrategy Incorporated (MSTR) reportedly will be the first employer to offer Bitcoin as an investment option in its employee retirement plans.1
KEY TAKEAWAYS Fidelity will offer Bitcoin as an investment option in 401(k) plans starting sometime in mid-2022. How much plan participants can put into Bitcoin will be determined by their employers, but a maximum of 20% is likely. This is likely to give a major boost to the mainstreaming of cryptocurrency. However, the U.S. Department of Labor has "serious concerns" about crypto in retirement plans, due to the high risks. Fidelity Account Details Initial reports indicate that investors in the Bitcoin-eligible retirement plans administered by Fidelity will be able to allocate up to 20% of their accounts to this investment option, although this figure may change. Moreover, the cap on Bitcoin investments will be determined by the employer.23
Fees for Bitcoin-eligible accounts reportedly are planned to range between 0.75% and 0.90% of assets, with the exact amount to depend on the amount invested and the employer. Additional fees, particularly per-trade fees, reportedly also will be charged.23
Mainstreaming Crypto Fidelity's move would allow first-time crypto investors to obtain Bitcoin without having to make a separate account on a crypto exchange. This is likely to become a major boost to acceptance of crypto as an investment alternative. In the subset of retirement plans represented by 401(k) plans, Fidelity held an estimated $2.4 trillion of assets as of 2020, making it the third-largest provider in this segment.2
In November 2021, Fidelity launched the first regulated offering in Canada that offered Bitcoin custody and trading services for institutional investors. Fidelity next launched two publicly traded bitcoin funds in December 2021 on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX). In 2022, Fidelity has launched similar products in Switzerland and Germany.2
'Serious Concerns' From Department of Labor In March 2022, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) warned that cryptocurrencies were speculative and volatile investments with inflated valuation. The DOL expressed "serious concerns" about providers offering cryptocurrencies in retirement plans. The DOL also stressed that providers must offer adequate information to potential investors about the risks involved in cryptocurrency investing, including the volatile prices and the evolving regulatory environment.2
Role of Microstrategy As noted above, business analytics software provider MicroStrategy reportedly has signed on to become the first employer offering Bitcoin in its 401(k) plans administered by Fidelity. That company holds billions of dollars in Bitcoin, and its founder Michael Saylor is a staunch supporter of cryptocurrency through numerous tweets on the subject.2
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