Citigroup is planning to create 100 roles centred around blockchain and digital currencies, as the bank looks to tap into the growing demand for digital assets.
This is according to internal documents seen by Reuters, with a staff memo announcing that the newly created positions, based in London, Singapore, New York, and Tel Aviv, will be led by Citi’s head of blockchain and digital assets Puneet Singhvi, who in turn will report to business development head Emily Turner.
The team will focus on outlining strategies to pursue digital asset opportunities, such as new products, clients, and investments, as well as developing and managing these products, with the roles expected to be filled by the end of next year.
However, the company will first research the digital assets market, as well as its regulations and risks, before “offering any products and services”, a spokesperson told Reuters. This is to meet Citigroup’s regulatory frameworks and supervisory expectations. A Citi spokesperson confirmed the news to IT Pro.
Citigroup’s digital asset division, which provides its customers with access to cryptocurrencies, was launched in late June, with the bank officially filing to trade Bitcoin futures in August.
The decision to tap into the digital currencies market, a rare move among traditional banking institutions, was motivated by the growing demand and interest in cryptocurrencies:
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“Our clients are increasingly interested in this space, and we are monitoring these developments,” the company stated at the time.
The last year has also seen Goldman Sachs launch a crypto-trading team, while JPMorgan Chase made it possible for its wealth management customers to access cryptocurrency funds, despite CEO Jamie Dimon describing Bitcoin as “useless”.
HSBC, on the other hand, said that it wouldn’t be offering Bitcoin as an asset class anytime soon, while NatWest non-executive director and board member Morten Friis was quoted as saying that the bank would refuse business customers who accept virtual currencies as payment. The banks’ lukewarm approach to digital currencies can be attributed to the necessity to conduct additional financial crime checks, as cryptocurrencies have been repeatedly linked to money laundering and black market dealings.
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