Barclays, the second-largest bank in the U.K. by assets, is weighing the launch of a cryptocurrency trading desk.
A person with knowledge of the process told CoinDesk on Monday that the bank is gauging how interested clients of the bank would be in a crypto-specific trading desk. Bloomberg was the first to report that Barclays is talking to clients about a cryptocurrency service.
As it stands, the bank doesn't have any concrete plans to begin trading cryptocurrencies, the person said, adding that the majority of - if not all - major banks are likely to be exploring that option. The person added that Barclays is considering whether to extend the trade offering to its entire suite of clients, including institutions and hedge funds.
When reached for comment, Barclays spokesman Andrew Smith told CoinDesk:
"Barclays has no plans at this time to build a cryptocurrency trading desk. 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 going forward."
Other banks have reportedly been weighing a similar launch, most notably Goldman Sachs, which was the subject of speculation back in December. Yet weeks later, CEO Lloyd Blankfein shot down the rumor, though he left the door open to opening a crypto-focused trading desk during remarks in January.
Hedge funds are increasingly interested in trading cryptocurrencies, providing a growing client base for investments banks carrying out cryptocurrency trading.
Around 245 crypto-focused funds are currently operating, according to data provided by Autonomous Research. Despite an intense drawdown in cryptocurrency prices, only around nine of these funds have reportedly closed in 2018.