Citi plans to launch crypto trading services after a boom in client interest in digital currencies, report says

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Citi plans to launch crypto trading services after a boom in client interest in digital currencies, report says
REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
  • Citi is looking at offering crypto trading services, according to the Financial Times.
  • The bank's global head of foreign exchange said a range of clients have shown interest in bitcoin.
  • Citi will "build something" when it can be supported by regulators and clients, he said.

Citi could be the next major bank to enter the digital currency market after surging client interest, the Financial Times reported on Friday.

With Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan warming up to cryptocurrencies, other large investment banks are having to look at making them more accessible to the public.

Itay Tuchman, Citi's global head of foreign exchange, told the FT services including trading, custody, and financing are under consideration right now.

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"There are different options from our perspective, and we are considering where we can best service clients," he told the newspaper. "This is not going to be a prop-trading effort," he said, referring to proprietary trading, which uses money from the bank's own capital.

Citi published a research report on bitcoin in March that said the digital asset could become the currency of global trade. At the same time, the bank suggested it could go either way and suffer a "speculative implosion."

Goldman Sachs on Thursday opened up a new way for Wall Street investors to place big bets in the popular cryptocurrency through non-deliverable forwards, a derivative tied to bitcoin's price that is paid out in cash.

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Tuchman said Citi has seen massive interest in bitcoin across a gamut of investors, including large asset managers. Some had requested for more research, while others wanted trading services and ways to finalize deals with cryptocurrencies.

But he said the bank is being cautious and shouldn't do anything that's not safe, or sound. It is reportedly in no rush to conclude how deeply involved it should be in crypto. "We will jump in when we are confident that we can build something that benefits clients and that regulators can support," he said.

"I don't have any FOMO [fear of missing out], because I believe that crypto is here to stay and that we are just at the very beginning of the market," he added. "This isn't a space race. There is room for more than just one flag."

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Citi declined to comment further on the FT's report.

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