In a recent interview with CNBC, Barclays CEO, Ashok Vaswani revealed that the bank has been in communications with Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to discuss ways in which to safely regulate bitcoin.
“I’ve Actually Gone… to the FCA, to Talk About How We Could Bring… Cryptocurrencies Into Play”, Ashok Vaswani Told CNBC.
It has been announced that Barclays has been engaged in active dialogue with UK regulators about bringing bitcoin “into play” within the UK fintech industry. Barclay CEO, Ashok Vaswani, told CNBC that Barclays previously has met with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), Britain’s chief regulatory watchdog overseeing the fintech industry, to discuss virtual currency regulations.
Although the discussion began specifically on the topic of blockchain technology, the interview soon turned to bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. “I’ve actually gone… to the FCA, to talk about how we could bring… cryptocurrencies into play”, Ashok Vaswani told CNBC.
Despite Barclays’ evident interest in the cryptocurrency markets and economy, the CEO appears to view virtual currencies with cautious optimism. “Obviously [it’s] a new area, an arena we’ve got to be careful with. We are working our way through it.”
Advocating for a Permissive Regulatory Apparatus for the Cryptocurrency Markets
The executive director of strategy for the FCA, Chris Woolard, has recently iterated that businesses and institutions must adopt a cautious approach when dealing with cryptocurrency but also stressed that FCA has not taken a prohibitory stance with regards to bitcoin and blockchain technology. “We don’t prohibit regulated firms from engaging in digital currency trading, nor do we prohibit banks from offering banking services to deal with currency firms that use [blockchain]. I am not saying that we view digital currencies as an inherently bad thing… but we do have to exercise a degree of caution.”
Outside of announcing Barclays’ meetings with the FCA, Ashok Vaswani gave little elaboration on future plans the bank may have for further engagement within the cryptocurrency space. Barclays partnered with social payments app Circle last year, which facilitates the transmission of funds via messenger app and features support for bitcoin transactions.
Barclays is among a growing number of large financial institutions who are advocating for a permissive regulatory apparatus for the cryptocurrency markets. Despite pressure from the fintech industry, many commentators are predicting that it will take governments years to develop a comprehensive legal framework designed for the unique challenges and opportunities that bitcoin and other virtual currencies present.
Do you think that major banks showing an interest in bitcoin is positive for the network, or do you think that greater involvement in cryptocurrency by major financial institutions undermines the core values of bitcoin? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!