Barclays has no immediate plans to launch crypto trading desk, CEO indicates

Jes Staley describes crypto coins as a “real challenge” because of potential compliance and regulatory issues

Barclays has no immediate plans to launch crypto trading desk, CEO indicates

The chief executive officer of Barclays Plc (LON:BARC) Jes Staley has said that the FTSE 100 lender currently does not have plans to launch a digital currency trading desk, media outlet Financial News has reported.

A report by Bloomberg, published in mid-April, suggested that Barclays had been gauging its customers’ interest in it launching such an operation, adding that the British bank had done a preliminary assessment of demand and feasibility. A spokesperson for Barclays told the newswire at the time that the bank had no concrete plans to open a dedicated crypto trading desk. Staley confirmed this during the company’s annual general meeting on Tuesday.

Responding to a shareholder question at the meeting, Starley said that the company was looking into a digital currency business, but was cautious of regulatory and compliance issues associated with crypto assets, the Financial News report notes. The CEO described cryptocurrencies as “a real challenge” for the bank.

“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,” Starley said.

Last December, Bloomberg reported that US investment bank Goldman Sachs was setting up a trading desk to make markets in digital currencies such as Bitcoin and was hoping to launch it by late June. Similarly to Barclays, the report was later refuted by Goldman’s CEO Lloyd Blankfein, who said in late January that his company was just clearing Bitcoin futures for some of its futures clients.

“A principle bitcoin business where we're going long and short, market making, so far we're not,” Blankfein said in an interview with CNBC.

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