It has been reported that UK bank Barclays has been looking into the possibility of opening a trading desk.
Three months is a long time in cryptocurrency circles. Bitcoin News ran a story in May suggesting that the bank had no such plans and would continue to monitor clients. Barclays spokesman Andrew Smith in an emailed statement in April commented:
“We constantly monitor developments in the digital currency space and will continue to have a dialogue with our clients on their needs and intentions in this market.”
Cryptocurrencies presented a “real challenge” earlier in the year for Barclays CEO Jes Stately who was said to have suggested at a shareholder’s questions session:
“…on the one hand, there is the innovative side of it and wanting to stay in the forefront of technology’s improvement in finance… On the other side of it, there is the possibility of cryptocurrencies being used for activities that the bank wants to have no part of.”
Barclays may still not want to have a part in these “activities” but there is activity happening at the bank, according to reports. The former head of trading at Barclays has a new position, now entitled ‘Head of Digital Assets Project: Barclays Investment Bank’, while the director of oil options trading at the bank, Matthieu Jobbe Duval, is now ‘Digital Assets trading – Consultant at Barclays’.
The implications are clear if these titles represent anything, and illustrates that Barclays has moved on since the May statements. Duval suggests that Barclays:
“Hired him to produce a business plan for integrating a digital assets trading desk into [the bank’s] markets business revenue opportunity, competitive landscape, budgeting and planning for delivery, IT buildout, capital and balance sheet impact.”
Business Insider, who ran the original story, said that a bank representative denied that any such project existed and crypto trading was not planned.
Other major banks Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase have admitted to some cryptocurrency interest, with Goldman soon to open a desk after client pressure and JP Morgan at least building a team with boss Jamie Dimon, who has been almost conciliatory after making scathing crypto comments last year.
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