It now appears that multinational investment bank Barclays is not, in fact, joining the cryptocurrency markets through a crypto trading desk.
Reports initially surfaced yesterday claiming that the bank was starting a trading desk based on information on several traders LinkedIn profiles.
Barclays Not Developing Rumored Digital Asset Project
It initially appeared that Barclays had appointed one of their traders, Chris Tyrer, to lead the banks “digital asset project,” which entailed figuring out how the bank can best approach the rapidly expanding cryptocurrency markets.
Prior to these revelations, Jes Staley, Barclays’s CEO, had ruled out launching a crypto trading desk, expressing to shareholders in May that he feels skeptical about the technologies due to compliance and regulatory issues, saying:
“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.”
Regardless of Staley’s comments, reports surfaced that seemingly refuted his stance on the issue, claiming that the bank had appointed two of its traders, named Chris Tyler and Matthieu Jobbe Duval to work on the so-called “Digital Asset Project.”
According to information on the traders LinkedIn profiles, which has since been removed, Tyrer was the lead of the project, and Duval was a consultant for the project.
Duval’s LinkedIn Profile stated that he had been “hired to produce a business plan for integrating a digital assets trading desk into Barclays’ markets business: revenue opportunity, competitive landscape, budgeting and planning for delivery, I.T. buildout, capital & balance sheet impact.”
A Barclays spokesperson told Business Insider that the bank had no plans to launch a crypto trading desk, but did confirm that the two traders had worked at the bank.
Banks Are Interested in Trading Crypto
Although Barclays may not have any current plans to build a cryptocurrency trading desk, the bank did discuss the topic with clients in April.
According to a report from Bloomberg, Barclays had been conducting preliminary assessments of whether or not trading cryptocurrencies could be a profitable venture for the bank. Spokesman Andrew Smith said in a statement:
“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.”
The reports also claimed that Barclays could be potentially partnering with Goldman Sachs, who is already beginning to enter the cryptocurrency markets. However, a Barclays spokesperson refuted these rumors in late April. Although it is still unclear whether or not Barclays will ultimately enter the crypto markets, many other large financial institutions have already made the jump.
Goldman Sachs was the first institution to announce that they would be opening a crypto trading desk and paved the way for other banks to open trading desks as well. Following Goldman, Morgan Stanley announced that they would be opening a specific crypto trading desk for institutional traders. JPMorgan Chase also has developed a team of analysts to research blockchain and cryptocurrency, but they have not yet made any direct moves into the industry.