Forex broker OANDA has finally announced that it has added bitcoin into its currency converter, via a blog posting by VP of Trading, Courtney Gibson. The addition was rumored a few weeks ago, with users seeing bitcoin appear and then disappear from the converter. (Interestingly, even after launching it, pricing still doesn’t always appear on the main real time converter, but is readily available on the ‘Historical Rates’) In the blog post, Gibson states “We recently added Bitcoin to the OANDA Currency Converter. We admire it as an interesting experiment in financial innovation and, because we’re financial innovators too, we share the excitement such disruptive technologies can bring to mature industries and markets.”
While the rationale makes sense, and at Forex Magnates we have published a similar opinion that bitcoins are more than just a currency, and part of the future of the digitalizing of money transfer, Gibson added that the broker has no plans to launch further bitcoin products and said “Despite the increased awareness around the cyber currency, OANDA has no plans at this time to introduce Bitcoin as a tradeable currency to OANDA’s fxTrade platform, or to accept Bitcoin as a method for funding fxTrade accounts. By adding Bitcoin to our Currency Converter, we are acknowledging – in a very real way – the wide-ranging interest Bitcoin has generated as a virtual payment system.”
As a technology driven broker, it is a little disappointing that OANDA isn’t planning on trying to become a leader in the bitcoin trading space. Also, as mentioned in the blog post, OANDA’s CEO K Duker provided a positive opinion of bitcoins in his Reddit AMA earlier this year. Therefore, with bitcoins hitting OANDA’s radar well ahead of the rest of the market, launching solely a currency converter with no additional plans, isn’t filling any meaningful gap in the market.
With the exception of IG’s bitcoin binary product launch last week, major forex brokers have yet to get too involved with the currency, although many of them are having internal discussion about it. As such, it will be interesting to see if a bitcoin driven platform will be able to grab the lion’s share of the market while brokers remain on the sidelines.