British bank Barclays has clarified that it is not planning to launch a digital currency trading desk, despite rumors surrounding the topic. CEO Jes Staley explained in the annual shareholder meeting held on May 1st:
Cryptocurrency is a real challenge for us because, 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.
As early as 2016, Barclays decided to allow charities to accept Bitcoin. The bank also collaborated with leading financial institutions such as JP Morgan to develop “industry standards and protocols” for using blockchain technology in the banking world. The next year, Barclays became the first bank in the U.K. to join forces with cryptocurrency payment app Circle. The bank’s spokesperson said, “We support the exploration of positive uses of blockchain that can benefit consumers and society.”
In 2017, Barclays UK CEO, Ashok Vaswani, said that the bank had spoken to financial regulators to “talk about how we could bring, the equivalent of Bitcoin, not necessarily Bitcoin, but cryptocurrencies into play.” However, this year was specifically significant for the bank as it signed a deal with cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase to allow users to open bank accounts in Barclays.
However, a cryptocurrency trading desk was a rumor spread by someone who ‘knew’ about the ongoing situation. They also mentioned that almost all of the leading banks were considering this option. Even then, a Barclays spokesperson clarified, “Barclays has no plans at this time to build a cryptocurrency trading desk. We constantly monitor developments in the digital currency space and will continue to have a dialog with our clients on their needs and intentions in this market going forward.”
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