Barclays Considers Opening Crypto Trading Desk

News | April 17, 2018 By:

Barclays, the second-largest bank in the UK by assets, is reportedly considering to launch a cryptocurrency trading desk.

According to Bloomberg, citing a source familiar with the matter, Barclays is gauging institutional demand for cryptocurrency to determine if a crypto-specific trading desk is feasible. Barclays is currently conducting preliminary assessment and research, the source said, adding that the bank doesn’t have any concrete plans to begin trading cryptocurrencies.

Due to the “novelty of the asset class, risk and compliance requirements,” opening a cryptocurrency trading desk would require approval from Barclays International President Tim Throsby and group chief executive Jes Staley.

In September 2017, Throsby vowed to reignite the bank’s “commercial zeal” and authorized the transfer of billions of dollars of capital to higher-risk trading activities from vanilla corporate lending. Bitcoin, with its volatile nature, could be the type of investment the bank is looking for.

Barclays spokesman Andrew Smith said they constantly monitor developments in the crypto space and will continue to have a dialog with their clients on their needs and intentions in this market going forward.

Other banks have reportedly been weighing a similar launch. In October 2017, it was reported that Goldman Sachs was planning to set up a trading desk to make markets in cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin. However, in January, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein denied the rumors, saying that the bank had not yet made plans to establish a “principle bitcoin business.”