The innovation division of Fidelity Investments, Fidelity Labs, and digital asset exchange Coinbase released a new balance viewing feature for investors this week. The move may be a small step for Fidelity brokerage clients who want to see their digital currency assets alongside their other investments. But it is an interesting sign from a company that helped drive mass adoption of and investment in another revolutionary asset class – mutual funds – more than two decades ago.
As Project Manager Kristen Stone noted at the Coinbase blog, the view balance feature was tested on Fidelity employees with digital currency accounts at Coinbase earlier this year. The popularity of the feature led Fidelity to expand the offering to all its customers, which Stone called a testament “to the continued commitment of traditional financial institutions to adopt digital assets and widen access for customers.”
Linking Coinbase accounts to Fidelity is straightforward. Select Add Non-Fidelity Accounts from the All Accounts dashboard. A pop-up enables users to choose between accounts to be added, with the Coinbase option featured. The user will then be taken to their Coinbase account where they can authorize access and complete the account linking process.
This partnership is a small example of how Fidelity has begun to embrace digital assets. Writing for The Street.com, Brian O’Connell and Ross Kenneth Urken noted that the company allows Bitcoin transactions in its corporate cafeteria, and Fidelity employees can donate in Bitcoin to the company’s Charitable Donor Advised Fund. The authors suggested that having a $6 trillion AUM investment company take interest in digital currencies adds a measure of validation for the assets, which are still in infancy.
“Bitcoin and other blockchain technologies are emerging from their infancy but mass adoption is still many years away,” Fidelity Labs Managing Director and SVP Hadley Stern said. At the same time, Stern warned against underestimating the attraction of digital assets and the underlying technology. “Just as many other technologies have done in the past, Bitcoin and blockchain will transform how we manage our finances.”
Founded in 2012 and headquartered in San Francisco, California, Coinbase demonstrated its Instant Exchange at FinovateSpring 2014. A member of CB Insights Fintech 250, Coinbase announced a pilot integration with Western Union in June and added support for Litecoin in May. Coinbase launched its open source, combination messaging app and ethereum wallet, Token, in April. The company has raised more than $112 million in funding, and includes Andreessen Horowitz, Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ), and Bank of Tokyo – Mitsubishi among its investors. Brian Armstrong is co-founder and CEO.