While Wall Street takes stock of Wednesday’s direct listing of cryptocurrency giant Coinbase, some buttoned-up U.K. banks will likely be avoiding COIN stock because of lingering worries about crypto’s role in money laundering and criminal activity.
A prime example is HSBC, which made headlines recently by banning customers from buying shares in MicroStrategy, a company holding large amounts of bitcoin on its balance sheet.
Asked if HSBC would also be avoiding Coinbase’s newly-listed COIN stock, HSBC Corporate Media Relations Manager Ankit Patel said:
“HSBC has no appetite for direct exposure to virtual currencies and limited appetite to facilitate products or securities that derive their value from virtual currencies. This is not a new policy.”
Big U.S. banks like Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and BNY Mellon are now fully awake to crypto and the need to stay competitive by fielding client demand for digital assets. That said, crypto businesses still struggle to get bank accounts. Silvergate and Signature Bank cater to much of the industry in the U.S., with firms like ClearBank doing the same in the U.K. and Europe.
The same feeling of cold-feet from certain British banks also applies to dealing in shares of listed crypto firms.
During a recent IPO roadshow for mobile bitcoin app Mode (now listed on the London Stock Exchange), both HSBC and Barclays said they would not allow the firm’s