Pension provider partners with Coinbase to offer 5% exposure to crypto

United States-based retirement plan provider, ForUsAll, is joining forces with Coinbase to allow clients to invest up to 5% of their portfolio assets in cryptocurrencies.

The pension provider, which primarily serves small-to-medium-sized businesses, is working to offer exposure to more than 50 cryptocurrencies in a product called Alt 401(k).

The firm’s co-founder and chief investment officer, David Ramirez, acknowledged concerns regarding offering crypto products in pension portfolios due to their volatility, but argued that U.S. citizens will be at a “disadvantage” if they are not given the option of accessing crypto assets in their retirement plans:

“The average American may be at a structural disadvantage relative to large institutions and high net worth individuals, and we just don’t think that’s right.”

ForUsAll handles $1.7 billion in retirement plan assets, which accounts for a small portion of the $22 trillion retirement-account markets.

In the United States, a 401 plan is an employer-sponsored defined-contribution pension account defined in subsection 401 of the Internal Revenue Code.

Larger institutional investment firms such as Fidelity Investments and Charles Schwab do not allow customers to directly buy or sell cryptocurrency in taxable accounts or individual retirement accounts. However, they can purchase shares in trusts that do invest in crypto assets from companies such as Grayscale Investments.

Related: Fidelity’s Tom Jessop says crypto has hit a ‘tipping point’

One firm that does allow the direct purchase of crypto assets and gold for retirement plans is BitcoinIRA, which was founded in 2016. Commenting on ForUsAll’s collaboration with Coinbase, co-founder and chief operating officer at BitcoinIRA, Chris Kline, stated:

“ForUsAll and Coinbase wouldn’t be doing this if there wasn’t a market. There are people that want this with these types of funds. And they want to have access to new and exciting things with their 401(k)s.”

MicroStrategy CEO Michael Saylor responded to ForUsAll’s move to embrace crypto.

In April, Cointelegraph reported that pension funds and insurance firms have been increasingly dedicating part of their asset bases to Bitcoin and crypto assets as concerns over inflation escalated amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In May 2020, Kingdom Trust, a regulated custodian managing over $13 billion in assets, launched a retirement account supporting both Bitcoin and legacy assets.

The firm noted that when the Internal Revenue Service decided to tax Bitcoin, it directly enabled the asset to be held by qualified custodians and in retirement accounts.