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London Banks Slow in Global Crypto Race

London Banks Slow in Global Crypto Race

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Many cryptocurrency company executives feel that the influence of major banks in London is having a negative effect on the pace of the industry in the city, writes

Some crypto professionals feel that London may lose its iconic status as a global financial hub if banks can’t manage to keep up with the current tide of cryptocurrency trading in the city. They claim that the main barrier to this can be laid at the feet of the banking system, particularly the dominance of major London banks and their reluctance to embrace cryptocurrency.

Some believe that this stance is driving regulated platforms to locations such as Tokyo, Chicago, and New York in order to conduct OTC and hedge fund business and exchange-traded derivatives such as futures.

“Banks have been unusually strict in dealings with crypto… It’s nearly impossible to open an account for crypto in the UK. The problem is that in the UK there is a perception that banks have issues with anti-money laundering and decided to be a lot more conservative,” Max Boonen former Goldman Sachs trader and CEO of B2C2 commented.

Notably, Wall Street, on the other side of the Atlantic, is less reluctant to move forward, with Boonen’s former employer Sachs announcing that it has plans to use its own money to trade in Bitcoin futures and JPMorgan Chase exec Amber Baldet announcing that major banks could soon be on the brink of trading in cryptocurrency.

David Mercer, CEO of LMAX,  an FCA-regulated FX trading venue, sees London very much as a “late adopter”, expecting that UK banks could foreseeably join the market in 2019. Others also see that with time, London can’t possibly be left behind due to its historic place at the forefront of international money markets.

Nauman Anees, co-founder of Think Coin, a multi-asset financial and cryptocurrency trading exchange, suggests that once London makes the correct assessments and judgments regarding the industry, banks will take a more progressive stance, commenting:

“The City of London, taken as a whole, has the collective experience to make considered and forward-thinking decisions. This experience manifests itself in many ways, from the efficiency of trade execution to KYC & AML regulations and from the strength of our legal system to our culture of effective corporate governance.”

Anees points out that any idea of corporate resistance to crypto adoption in London is “misguided” and that most investment banks now have crypto desks in place. Those that haven’t are investigating their options and “undoubtedly experimenting behind the scenes”.


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