Category Archives: Barclays

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Coinbase Goes on Wall Street Hiring Spree as Part of Global Expansion

Coinbase has cut the ribbon for its new New York office with plans to expand the staff profile to 150 employees over the next 12 months.

As part of the company’s expansion plans, the current staff of 20 have been acquired from the New York Stock Exchange, Barclays, and Citigroup, which indicates the level of seriousness on its part in infiltrating the banking system. Adam White, general manager of Coinbase Institutional, explained the staffing direction the exchange was embarking on:

“We have to create a bridge between financial services and technology,” he added, “In order to do that, we need to pull from some of the best and brightest minds that have worked their whole careers in other kinds of traditional financial firms.”

With an expansion into the Irish Republic and now NYC, crypto exchange giant Coinbase is clearly on a push to amplify its influence around the globe. In its push to raise its corporate and institutional investor client base, the office is following the NYSE with its new staffing profile. According to Christine Sandler, the company’s head of institutional sales, its focus on institutional investors should sit comfortably with its retail investment trade. She commented:

“We want to partner with appropriate institutions to help the whole ecosystem grow.” She further said, “It’s not ‘institutional or retail,’ because a lot of these institutions will be distributors.”

White argues that they had expected an exodus of institutional investors when the market corrected but claims, “It was exactly the opposite.” White sees Coinbase as having the capability to “light up more countries and more fiat rails” with a new office in Tokyo planned and a move into South America. White further said: “we’re committed to not being a U.S. company.”

Coinbase has also joined a new Washington-based lobby group called the Blockchain Association who intend to convince governmental bodies to give the crypto space some well-needed regulatory leeway in a bid to foster innovation.

Along with Coinbase other leaders in the sector include Circle, Protocol Labs, and other crypto investment firms, like Polychain Capital and Digital Currency Group,

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UK Bank Barclays Could Be Tapping into Crypto

It has been reported that UK bank Barclays has been looking into the possibility of opening a trading desk.

Three months is a long time in cryptocurrency circles. Bitcoin News ran a story in May suggesting that the bank had no such plans and would continue to monitor clients. Barclays spokesman Andrew Smith in an emailed statement in April commented:

“We constantly monitor developments in the digital currency space and will continue to have a dialogue with our clients on their needs and intentions in this market.”

Cryptocurrencies presented a “real challenge” earlier in the year for Barclays CEO Jes Stately who was said to have suggested at a shareholder’s questions session:

“…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.”

Barclays may still not want to have a part in these “activities” but there is activity happening at the bank, according to reports. The former head of trading at Barclays has a new position, now entitled ‘Head of Digital Assets Project: Barclays Investment Bank’, while the director of oil options trading at the bank, Matthieu Jobbe Duval, is now ‘Digital Assets trading – Consultant at Barclays’.

The implications are clear if these titles represent anything, and illustrates that Barclays has moved on since the May statements. Duval suggests that Barclays:

“Hired him to produce a business plan for integrating a digital assets trading desk into [the bank’s] markets business revenue opportunity, competitive landscape, budgeting and planning for delivery, IT buildout, capital and balance sheet impact.”

Business Insider, who ran the original story, said that a bank representative denied that any such project existed and crypto trading was not planned.

Other major banks Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase have admitted to some cryptocurrency interest, with Goldman soon to open a desk after client pressure and JP Morgan at least building a team with boss Jamie Dimon almost conciliatory after scathing crypto comments last year.

 

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IBM, Barclays, Citi Create Blockchain App Store for Financial Services

American technology corporation IBM has teamed with banking giants including Barclays and Citi to create an app store style platform for financial blockchain services.

The LedgerConnect project aims to increase efficiency in banks’ ability to access and utilize blockchain solutions from fintech and software developers, offering services in areas of market data, know your customer (KYC) processes, collateral management and sanctions screenings. Nine financial institutions were part of the proof-of-concept of the app for use by their peers.

Trying something new

Those behind the LedgerConnect project say it will benefit users by pre-approving and certifying applications as secure to be used, potentially saving research costs for banks looking for blockchain services. Dr Lee Braine of Barclays noted that a hub such as this gives banks a chance to try something new in the area, allowing them access to the various deployment options of distributed ledgers in banking, and experience in combining infrastructure-hosted and bank-hosted nodes in the private network.

The hub itself runs on IBM’s blockchain platform, offering just Hyperledger-based applications for the time being, although the founders are looking into hosting alternative blockchain solutions, citing R3’s Corda and Quorum as viable options so long as they meet the security specifications.

A good thing for start-ups?

Should the hub find success in the sector, it will not only be beneficial for the banks using it, but also for the blockchain companies whose services are being advertised. By addressing a connectivity gap as the project says it is, the number of blockchain trials by big banks such as those the Bank of Canada has become known for may decrease, allowing smaller start-up firms to have their own solutions employed by those entities.

It could, in fact, encourage further research and applications be developed now there is an easier way for their work to be advertised and used by financial institutions.

 

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Bittrex to Offer Select Clients US Dollar Pairs

US-based cryptocurrency exchange platform Bittrex has confirmed a partnership with several financial institutions that will allow select clients in the US to pair BTC/USD, as well as connect pairs for ‘stablecoins’ Tether and TrueUSD.

As reported by Bloomberg, the agreement will allow for now predominantly corporate clients in a limited number of states to purchase the nearly 200 digital tokens offered on the platform, using the US dollar directly.

Bittrex is working closely on the deal with New York-based Signature Bank alongside several other financial firms. Signature Bank will be responsible for holding the dollar-denominated funds.

Banks, regulations cryptocurrencies

Bittrex CEO Bill Shihara recently commented on the impact he suspects that this will have on the relationships between banks and cryptocurrency.

”It’s been a long path. It’s not just about banks being able to trust Bittrex. It’s about banks being able to trust crypto in general. And I think it’s really showing that crypto is turning the corner in terms of mainstream acceptance,” he said.

Purchasing cryptocurrencies directly with fiat currencies is becoming increasingly difficult as anti-money laundering (AML) regulations and know-your-customer (KYC) policies are being enforced by a growing number of governments.

These policies have in part contributed to a negative reputation that the cryptocurrency industry is paired with, disincentivizing many predominant financial institutions from offering related services for fear of risking their reputation.

While that is changing (notably Goldman Sachs announced earlier this month they are launching a Bitcoin trading desk), Bittrex’s actions are an important step in moving away from platforms that offer only ”crypto-to-crypto” services, meaning no fiat currency is involved in transactions.

Bittrex has confirmed that it plans to extend the offering to retail customers in the foreseeable future.

Several other banks have administrated similar deals. Prominent US cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has reportedly developed close working relationships with Cross River Bank, Metropolitan Bank and Silvergate Bank in the US, recently securing a Barclays PLC bank account in the UK.

 

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Barclays Quash Crypto Trading Desk Rumour But Monitor Developments

Barclays bank has confirmed that it has no plans to set up a cryptocurrency trading desk as previously rumored.

British banking giant Barclays appears to be the latest to enter the blockchain arena, with Barclays UK recently announcing a new ventures unit to study “disruptive technology”. However, despite a report from CoinDesk earlier this month indicating that Barclays was monitoring client responses to the possibility of opening a trading desk for the cryptocurrency, the bank doesn’t appear ready to take the next step, and still seems to be monitoring the space.

Barclays’ spokesman Andrew Smith said in an emailed statement last month:

“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,”

In fact, Barclays CEO Jes Stately regards a move towards cryptocurrency as a “real challenge.” UK media outlet, Financial News, reports that the comments were made in response to shareholders’ questions, during the banks annual meeting. He commented:

“…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.”

It is exactly these activities the governments around the world are currently legislating against in order to make the cryptocurrency space both safe and fit for purpose. Stately says that the bank is looking into cryptocurrency related business, but sees the regulatory and compliance issues as something which needs addressing.

Other major banks such as JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs have expresses concerns and strong views in the past and have often been scathing about bitcoin and other digital currencies. There are, however, ex-bank executives moving towards the new financial ktechnology.  Ex-chief of JPMorgan’s global energy trading desk, Daniel Masters, has recently suggested that cryptocurrencies could no longer be ignored by central banks and governments, adding that both the story and the technology is there and it is “convincing.”

Image Courtesy:  https://pixabay.com/en/bank-money-finance-shares-save-2907728/  James Qube

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Barclays UK New Ventures Unit to Explore “Disruptive” Themes

British bank Barclays appears to be the latest to enter the blockchain arena, with Barclays UK announcing a new ventures unit to study “disruptive technology”.

The announcement appeared to dance closely around the blockchain topic without directly pointing to cryptocurrency, explaining its mission to innovate in pursuit of “disruptive” themes within the newly created Barclays UK Ventures unit.

According to the announcement, the unit would “accelerate the growth of new business lines… working independently of traditional units” and “develop new customer propositions around major areas of disruptive technology”.

“We intend to drive this initiative by building a strong team of technologists, developers and entrepreneurs within BUKV, mandated to operate independently of, but in partnership with, our core operations,” explained Ben Davey,  CEO of Barclays UK Ventures.

Notably missing from the announcement were key terms connected to cryptocurrency, although a sheepish reference to startup operations was unsurprising. It could have been a cautious move, given that it was only two years ago when legal charges were brought against the bank after failing to deliver on hefty claims on a separate venture.

Allegations that the Barclays company had rigged the stock market, committed market manipulation and price tampering, were silenced with a USD 70 million settlement paid by Barclays to the state of New York and to the Securities Exchange Commission.

Even with the existing controversy surrounding the technology, banks will be keen to get a foot in the door in the cryptocurrency space, especially when financial leaders like Mastercard recently began a blockchain exploration initiative.

 

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