Cryptocurrency to become option for some workers’ 401(k) retirement plans, WSJ reports

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Craig Harris, USA TODAY
Published 4:22 p.m. ET June 10, 2021

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USA TODAY

A small group of workers next month will be able to invest in cryptocurrency in their 401(k) retirement plans, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

ForUsAll Inc., a 401(k) provider, announced earlier this month a deal with the institutional arm of Coinbase Global Inc., a leading cryptocurrency exchange, that will allow workers in plans it administers to invest up to 5% of their 401(k) contributions in bitcoin, ether, litecoin, and others, the Journal reported.

Executives at ForUsAll won’t say how many of the firm’s 400 employer clients have signed up for the cryptocurrency platform. 

Founded in 2012, the company provides automated 401(k) administration, menus of low-cost mutual funds, and access to human advisers, according to the report.

Crypto-investing is virtually nowhere to be found in 401(k) plans and individual retirement accounts at the moment.

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Cryptocurrencies are digital currency created and exchanged over a decentralized computer network where transactions are secured and verified through coding.

Bitcoin, which launched in 2009, is the original and the world’s most popular crypto. It was designed as an alternative to government money and is based on blockchain technology, which acts as a public ledger of transactions.

Bitcoin’s value depends on investors’ confidence in it because there is no central authority governing supply. It has mainly been used for speculation by traders rather than for payments.

With just $1.7 billion in retirement-plan assets, ForUsAll represents a small piece of the $22 trillion retirement-account market, according to the Journal. But its embrace of crypto comes at a time of heightened mainstream interest in digital currencies.

For example, billionaires, celebrities, athletes and amateur investors have jumped into the cryptocurrency investment craze, USA Today has reported.

Prices for cryptocurrencies are based on supply and demand. That means the rate at which a cryptocurrency can be exchanged for another currency can fluctuate vastly since the design of many cryptocurrencies ensures a high degree of scarcity. 

Bitcoin bulls have called it a “store of value” – which has historically been reserved for safe-haven investments like gold – and argue that it’s a good investment to hedge against inflation.

That’s because there’s not an unlimited supply of bitcoin. In fact, there are only 21 million bitcoins that can be mined, and about 18 million have been mined so far. Bitcoin mining is the process that creates cryptocurrency. It is resource-intensive in an effort to control the number of bitcoins in circulation. 

Have a tip on a business story? Reach the reporter at craig.harris@usatoday.com or 602-509-3613 or on Twitter @CraigHarrisUSAT 

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