Banks Are Rushing to Offer Crypto Services. HSBC Won’t, CEO Says. – Barron’s


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The offices of banking giants HSBC and Barclays at the secondary central business district of Canary Wharf in London, England.

AFP via Getty Images

Major Wall Street banks, including Citi and Goldman Sachs, are taking steps to offer cryptocurrency services to their clients, trying to take advantage of sizzling demand for a new asset.

HSBC Holdings, Europe’s largest bank by assets, won’t join them. Chief Executive Noel Quinn  told Reuters in an interview that HSBC won’t launch a cryptocurrency trading desk and won’t offer cryptocurrencies as an investment to clients.

Quinn also said the bank won’t offer stablecoins, such as Tether, that act like money-market funds for cryptocurrency traders.

Quinn cited a lack of transparency and volatility as reasons not to offer crypto services.

Two-thirds of HSBC’s profits in the first quarter came from Asia, where authorities have pushed back against crypto. Several crypto miners in China have halted their operations, after the country directed banks and insurers not to offer crypto services and said regulated institutions can’t accept crypto as payment.

A bill banning cryptocurrency was drafted in India, but its parliament hasn’t yet considered it.

The main cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, has fallen 50% from highs on a combination of regulatory developments and environmental concerns. On Tuesday, it was trading just under $39,000, as Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk said on Twitter that he spoke with North American miners about using renewable energy.