After introducing cryptocurrency trading services to well-received appreciation earlier 2018, financial services giant Barclays has reportedly shut down the desk without providing sufficient reason.
Backtracking on Crypto-Vision
Two sources familiar with the matter confirmed the development to Financial News London on Oct. 15. The move comes after banks like Goldman Sachs are setting up Bitcoin trading desks for their clients after significant interest in the asset class from high net-worth individuals and wealthy retail traders.
Earlier in 2018, Barclays elected a senior team to explore the integration of digital asset trading to its traditional investment business, but the plan has since been “put on ice.” The bank’s former head of energy trading, Chris Tyrer, moved into a full-time role to lead the project but departed in September 2018 after higher management decided to backtrack on their objective.
Marvin Barth, head of FX and emerging markets at Barclays, joined Tyrer on the initiative. Consultant Matthieu Jobbe Duval and senior technologist Lee Braine completed the short-lived digital asset trading team. Together, the four were tasked with researching the long-term implications of cryptocurrencies, as well as the latter’s viability as a credible asset class for investors. Other aspects of research included surveying risk appetite and auditing computing and administrative systems to check if new infrastructure was required.
Earlier in May 2018, Jes Staley, the CEO of Barclays, told attendees at the bank’s annual general meetings to exercise caution while dealing with cryptocurrencies. At the time, he noted that there’s a “possibility of cryptocurrencies being used for activities that the bank wants to have no part of.”
Meanwhile, other U.K. lenders and market rivals are relieved after Barclays’ decision to shelve the trading desk. Most banks, on the other hand, are looking into offering their client exposure to the highly-risky, yet highly-rewarding cryptocurrency sector.