Citigroup is considering offering crypto trading, custody, and financing services in the presence of regulatory uncertainty.
Two years after Citigroup tried its unsuccessful Citicoin crypto experiment, it’s now looking to get into the crypto space, albeit rather cautiously in the midst of regulatory uncertainty. This approach is in line with statements made in the first half of 2021 by Itay Tuchman, Citi’s Global Head of Foreign Exchange when he said that it will “jump in” when it can build something that will benefit clients and that regulators can support. According to its recruitment portal, Citigroup is looking for experienced personnel to join a crypto-focused team in London.
Scalable resilience and transparency are two primary concerns, according to the CEO. Currently, Citi Bank is working to connect customers to wallets and to enable corporate clients to accept consumer payments in crypto. It wants to be sure that there is a safety net for retail clients, who may not be fully au fait with the risky nature of cryptocurrencies.
According to Goldman Sachs, clients question the legitimacy of cryptocurrencies as an asset class and their potential role in an investment portfolio. The World Gold Council argues that BTC should not be used as a substitute for gold in investment portfolios.
Banks taking a different approach to crypto
It’s interesting to study banks’ approaches to crypto, since crypto’s decentralized nature seems to be at odds with the banks’ role of intermediary in financial transactions. Despite this, CEO of Citigroup, Jane Fraser believes that cryptocurrencies are here to stay. In August 2021, the bank looked into trading bitcoin futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange to expose institutional clients to digital assets.
In June 2021, Citigroup launched a business unit to offer crypto-related products under the wealth-management banner. JPMorgan Chase wealth management clients were given access to six crypto funds in early August 2021. Morgan Stanley also offers substantial crypto exposure to its clients.
According to Tuchman, interest in bitcoin began surfacing in August 2020, from varied clients. Some requested research, while others called for more active involvement, which included trading a range of cryptocurrencies through the bank, and financing deals with cryptocurrency holdings.