- Bank intended to introduce a cryptocurrency trading desk to desk client appetite.
- The person hired to lead the “digital assets project” left the bank in September.
- The decision to shelve the cryptocurrency plans will be of interest to the bank’s rivals.
There was speculation in April 2018 that Barclays Bank Plc. was considering introducing a cryptocurrency trading desk to join Goldman Sachs Group in the initiative. It may appear that it will not be happening, at least for now.
Project has been “Put on Ice”
Barclays’ employee Chris Tyler, who formerly headed the energy trading department, had taken a full-time role in what was called the “digital assets project” earlier this year is said to have left the bank last September after the bank decided to shelve the cryptocurrency trading project. While Tyler could not be reached, the bank declined to comment on the development.
In August 2018, media outlets reported that two employees had been assigned work on Barclays Bank’s cryptocurrency trading project, and this was clearly stated in their LinkedIn profiles. A report by the Business Insider had stated that Chris Tyler had been “hired to produce a business plan for integrating a digital assets trading desk into Barclays’ marketing business.”
A Bloomberg report stated then that Tyler would work alongside head of Forex and emerging markets Marvin Barth, senior technologist, and Lee Braine and consultant Matthieu Jobbe Duval.
The four were tasked with exploring the long-term feasibility of cryptocurrencies and whether there was an appetite for cryptocurrencies among Barclays’ clients and what IT infrastructure the bank would require.
The report on Bloomberg had claimed in April that the bank was actively gauging client interest using a cryptocurrency desk. The bank’s spokesman told Bloomberg in an email correspondence:
“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.”
Tyler’s LinkedIn profile was later edited to remove the information. Even though Tyler had described the information as accurate, he did not comment further on the matter. Information from a source close to the project now confirms that the project has finally been “put on ice.”
Barclays CEO Jes Staley stated during the bank’s annual general meeting in May that the bank was cautious due to regulatory and compliance issues surrounding digital currencies but said:
“There is the possibility of cryptocurrencies being used for activities that the bank wants to have no part of.”
The decision to shelve the cryptocurrency trading plans will interest the bank’s rivals that are exploring plans to make profits from the increased interest in cryptocurrencies. Goldman Sachs refuted rumors last month it was shelving plans to set up a cryptocurrency trading desk while Intercontinental Exchange (ICE)’ Bakkt revealed that its first product will be in the form of physically delivered Bitcoin (BTC).