Barclays ‘puts crypto trading platform on ice’

October 16, 2018
Chris Wheal

Barclays has been reviewing a possible move into cryptocurrency for months

Barclays, which has apparently been considering a move into cryptocurrency for several months, is believed to have now put plans for a trading platform on pause.

According to reports quoting two sources “familiar with the situation”, the UK-based multinational bank has frozen the project that would have seen the group launch a cryptocurrency trading desk.

The “digital assets project” was led by Barclays’ former global head of commodities Chris Tyrer, alongside head of forex and emerging markets macro strategy, Marvin Barth, technology officer Lee Braine, and digital assets consultant Matthieu Jobbe Duval.

The decision to axe the project reportedly led to Tyrer standing down from the post last month.

Obstacles or apathy?

The group of four researched cryptocurrencies viability as an asset that Barclays’ customers might be interested in, and to better understand the operational infrastructure needed to support the project.

It is believed that either the research revealed several challenges that the bank preferred not to face, or found evidence of a lack of interest from customers willing to explore the emerging asset class as an investment vehicle.

No specific reason was given for the decision to put the project “on ice.” In recent weeks, as cryptocurrencies continue to experience declining prices lack of interest from institutional investors has caused other cryptocurrency products to be shelved.

View from the top

Past comments from Barclays chief executive officer (CEO) Jes Staley could also explain the reluctance to develop a crypto trading desk. Staley worried that cryptocurrencies could be “used for activities that the bank wants to have no part of.”

Reports surfaced last April that Barclays was reviewing the potential of a cryptocurrency trading desk in partnership with Goldman Sachs. They gain traction in August, when Barclays created its digital asset team

Goldman Sachs.is also rumored to be working on its own cryptocurrency trading desk. Like Barclays it too has at various times both supported and denied the existence of such a trading desk.

Last month, rumours emerged from anonymous sources claiming that the US finance firm was ditching plans for a cryptocurrency trading desk. However, Goldman’s chief financial officer (CFO) Marty Chavez dismissed them as “fake news”.

 

Post written by Chris Wheal
Chris Wheal is editor of OpenLedger's news and features service. An award-wining business journalists himself, he runs a team of freelance journalists from across the UK and north America.

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