Banks have a growing cryptocurrency problem. But, it is not what you think. Internal trading desks and a broadening array of clients are coaxing senior management at big banks to launch crypto-centric services. As covered previously, banking institutions have often obliged this request.
Citigroup and its executives are similarly optimistic about these digital tokens. Jane Fraser, CEO at Citi Group, recently conveyed the same during an interview. “Digital assets will be part of the future of financial services and financial markets,” she said.
“Real-time payments are both, both in the sense that they’re frictionless and they’ll become more global. They’ll become ubiquitous. [They] will be here in the near term, and digital currencies may be part of that future.”
Citigroup was one of the first big banks to venture into cryptocurrencies. Back in 2018, it came up with a way to invest in cryptocurrencies, without actually owning them. Fast forward to 2021, they are building the required infrastructure for the same.
Citi clients have shown a lot of interest in cryptocurrencies. According to Fraser,
“We spend a lot of time discussing (cryptocurrencies) with many of our partners and clients as well. We see benefits from the digital asset space in processing, fractionalization, programmability, and transparency.”
Having said that, the industry is still developing. There have been a few cases of illicit activities within this domain. No wonder, the bank is proceeding thoughtfully and with appropriate caution. Fraser added,
“There’s still a lot of questions about how the space evolves around regulatory clarity around some of the scalability around resiliency, certainly around some transparency.”
Ergo, one has to make sure that there are the appropriate guardrails in the system.
“…particularly for our retail clients we don’t want them participating in areas that know they’re not necessarily as well equipped to understand the risks of.”
Nevertheless, some high-ranking officials have taken the opposite road, with most adopting an indifferent or hostile position.
Other banking giants in the U.S. have revealed the demand from their clients to gain exposure to crypto-assets. For instance – Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, and others offer cryptocurrency-linked financial products to their wealthy clients.
At press time, the total crypto market cap exceeded the $2.5 trillion mark. This certainly injects some confidence into the banking sector adopting the same. Nevertheless, regulatory uncertainty still exists. If regulations tighten, the U.S. is at risk of a great crypto-migration to more friendly lands. However, with the launch of a Bitcoin ETF, might the U.S be on course for a paradigm shift?