A survey of over 400 Thomson Reuters clients found that one in five is considering getting into crypto, with the majority weighing a push into the market within the next six months.
Interest in cryptocurrencies surged in the second half of 2017 as the price of bitcoin surged. The mainstream interest culminated in CME and CBOE launching bitcoin futures in December. But these products have been thinly traded and institutional interest in cryptocurrencies remains a niche concern.
There are over 200 cryptocurrency-focused hedge funds globally, according to fintech research firm Autonomous Next, but their combined assets under management are only $5 billion (about R62 billion) at a maximum.
Neill Penney, co-head of trading at Thomson Reuters, said: "Cryptocurrency is still a relatively small part of the trading market, but this survey makes clear this niche segment is starting to enter the mainstream of the financial services industry. This is a major change from a year ago."
The cryptocurrency market has stalled since the start of the year, declining from $800 billion (about R9.9 trillion) in value in December to around $400 billion (about R4.9 trillion) as of Monday. Many crypto bulls believe an influx of institutional money could be the spur that helps the market recover.
Bill Barhydt, the CEO of American Express-backed cryptocurrency startup Abra, told Business Insider last month: "I talk to hedge funds, high net worth individuals, even commodity speculators. They look at the volatility in the crypto markets and they see it as a huge opportunity. Once that happens, all hell will break loose."
On Monday it was reported that Goldman Sachs has hired its first employee to focus exclusively on digital currencies as the Wall Street bank explores creating a bitcoin trading desk.