Goldman Sachs and Barclays Bank Have Secret Crypto Trading Desk Plans

Multiple sources report that the firms are investigating cryptocurrency, but both deny any concrete plans.

Inundated 

Sources from investment bank Goldman Sachs have told Bloomberg that the firm is considering a custodial service for cryptocurrency investment funds. In response to a request for comment, a spokesman told Bloomberg: “At this point we have not reached a conclusion on the scope of our digital asset offering.”

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Rana Yared, managing director of the company’s securities division, said in May that the firm was being “inundated” with requests for cryptocurrency services.

That same month, the firm hired someone to the new role of ‘Head of Digital Asset Markets’ and announced that it would be trading “contracts linked to the price of Bitcoin” with its own money while seeking regulatory approval to trade Bitcoin itself.

The company remains undecided, however. Speaking to Bloomberg, the spokesman made it clear that no timeline has been set for any new service.

Move along, no digital assets trading desk to see here

Two employees of Barclays Bank have been working on a cryptocurrency project for their employer, according to Business Insider. The information was published on their Linkedin profiles, but a Barclays spokesman denied that the bank has any plans to launch a cryptocurrency trading desk

Chris Tyrer, who was the bank’s global head of energy trading, now lists his occupation as “Head of Digital Assets Project: Barclays Investment Bank”. According to his profile, he has been in that role for eight months.

Matthieu Jobbe Duval, who worked for the bank as an oil options trader, now lists his occupation as “Digital Assets trading – Consultant at Barclays”.

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He posted that he had been hired as a consultant “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.”

Duval confirmed to Business Insider that the information was accurate, but then removed it from his profile.

No smoke without fire

A news outlet called The ICO Journal reported in March that the bank was planning to open a cryptocurrency trading desk, citing two anonymous sources with knowledge of the matter. Then in April, anonymous sources told Bloomberg that the bank had performed an assessment of client interest in the field. In response to the report, a Barclays spokesman reiterated that the bank is not planning anything concrete.

Cloaks and daggers aside, Barclays did accept Coinbase as a customer in April, becoming the first British bank to provide a bank account to a cryptocurrency exchange.

Why the secrecy?

Financial institutions announcing some kind of new cryptocurrency service is becoming increasingly common, so the prevaricating of these two firms already seems a little odd.

To name a few very recent examples: Intercontinental Exchange has opened an exchange for Bitcoin futures, the London Stock Exchange has listed a cryptocurrency company for an IPO, and Nasdaq is now allowing one of its listed companies to accept cryptocurrency in its own IPO.

 

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