Barclays chief executive officer Jes Staley has recently revealed the financial institution won’t be launching a dedicated cryptocurrency trading desk, at least for now. According to UK media outlet Financial News, he acknowledged the bank was looking into the impact cryptocurrencies may have on the financial sector.

While answering a shareholder’s question at Barclays’ annual general meeting, Staley revealed the financial institution was also wary of regulatory compliance issues. He was quoted as 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.”

Jes Staley

The CEO’s response is notable, as Barclays had been rumored to be considering a move into the crypto space, by opening its own trading desk. The move, according to quoted insiders, would see it partner with Goldman Sachs, another major financial institution.

While some in the financial community have brushed off cryptocurrencies, others embraced them. Cboe Global Markets and the CME Group both launched bitcoin futures trading in late 2017, allowing investors to bet on the flagship cryptocurrency’s developments.

Per Staley, Barclays has been helping its clients settle bitcoin futures contracts, but doesn’t plan on opening its own dedicated desk to trade their underlying currency. As reported, Barclays has been linked to cryptocurrencies, as it was revealed its Coinbase’s banking partner in the UK.

Moreover, a group of analysts at the financial institution recently created a model that sees bitcoin as an infectious disease that has already seen its price peak because most have been treated, and it’s in decline. The model labelled crypto investors as either susceptible, infected, or immune.

Per the model, fear of missing out (FOMO) led to bitcoin’s mid-December all-time high of over $19,000 as the “infectious disease” was spreading. As most were infected, they were treated and are now immune.

Staley separately revealed that Barclays’ first-quarter earnings were wiped out by a near $2 billion fine from the US Department of Justice (DOJ), applied over the mis-selling of mortgage securities near the 2008 financial crisis. Nevertheless, he pointed to a strong performance.

Per the CEO, the “huge task of restricting Barclays is now complete,” which makes it clearer the financial institution won’t launch a cryptocurrency trading desk in the near future. The bank, Staley added, will soon start returning capital to shareholders.


Featured image by Gideon Benari, Flickr, CC by 2.0.