HSBC steers clear of Bitcoin due to “volatility”

An HSBC sign.
HSBC steers clear of Bitcoin due to “volatility”

HSBC has confirmed it has no interest in getting involved with Bitcoin.

The bank has no plans to offer the cryptocurrency to clients due to its volatility and lack of transparency, according to HSBC chief executive Noel Quinn.

He said: “Given the volatility we are not into bitcoin as an asset class. If our clients want to be there then of course they are, but we are not promoting it as an asset class within our wealth management business.

“I view bitcoin as more of an asset class than a payments vehicle, with very difficult questions about how to value it on the balance sheet of clients because it is so volatile.”

Bitcoin prices have fluctuated dramatically in recent weeks, which has been a running theme ever since the technology’s inception. In April 2021 it was trading at the $65,000 mark but more recently its value dipped to $31,000 before beginning to rise again. 

Another issue HSBC has with cryptocurrencies is the difficulty of determining who owns them, Quinn added, which could make the bank vulnerable to money laundering. 

Last week, China’s main financial regulators also banned its banks, insurers and payments firms from processing transactions in bitcoin.

They stated that it was not real currency and “should not and cannot be used as currency in the market”, adding that speculative trading is “disrupting the financial order”.

Despite this, more than 75 percent of the world’s bitcoin mining takes place in China. 

Some financial firms have been more receptive to the cryptocurrency. In March 2021 Goldman Sachs started a crypto-currency trading desk, while established fund management firms, such as Fidelity, now offer bitcoin to clients.

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