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BofA clients welcome to buy bitcoin, CEO says, just not at BofA

Bank of America clients are welcome to buy Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies ― just not through the lender’s Merrill Lynch unit, Chief Executive Officer Brian Moynihan said.

“We have limited our relationships and I think the thing speaks for itself,” Moynihan said Wednesday on a call with reporters after reporting fourth-quarter results. “We’ve basically told people that they could buy it in other accounts, but not at Merrill Lynch. And so it’s just our view that customers should be careful here.”

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Bank of America Corp. signage is displayed at a branch in New York, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013. Bank of America Corp. rose in New York trading after setting a $1.5 billion goal for its sale of China Construction Bank Corp. shares, a deal that will end an eight-year investment in the Chinese lender. Photographer: Ron Antonelli/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Merrill Lynch told employees last month not to offer clients Grayscale’s Bitcoin Investment Trust, one of the few financial instruments directly holding the digital coin. Moynihan said Wednesday the bank is concerned with not being able to identify who’s buying and selling.

“That’s one of the intellectual problems,” he said.

Moynihan also reiterated Wednesday that Merrill Lynch would stay in the Broker Protocol. Rival firms Morgan Stanley, UBS and Citigroup have quit the industry accord, which permits advisors to take basic client contact information when switching firms.