While many banks are fleeing from Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, one of the largest banks in the world is embracing them. Goldman Sachs will begin to use the price of Bitcoin as a benchmark to trade with clients.
The bank will actually not be buying or selling Bitcoin but will include its price as a peg for trading new contracts in the same way, many banks use the price of gold, oil or the dollar to trade with clients. Goldman will however still look into trading Bitcoin – a team is currently in place to seek regulatory approval for actual Bitcoin trading while mitigating risks associated with holding cryptocurrency.
Rana Yared, one of the executives at Goldman who is overseeing the trading operation said,
“I would not describe myself as a true believer who wakes up thinking Bitcoin will take over the world. For almost every person involved, there has been personal skepticism brought to the table.”
Skepticism is the most important word Ms. Yared used here. Several finance magnates, traders, and billionaires have publicly discounted Bitcoin as a currency that solves problems or even as legitimate. Earlier this year Bill Gates said cryptocurrencies caused deaths all over the world, while Warren Buffet and his business partner Charlie Munger recently called out Bitcoin as an irresponsible investment method and an unproductive asset.
A lot of the negative opinions of Bitcoin have come from its price volatility, anonymity and the fact that in the early days of the cryptocurrency, it was in fact used to fund many illegal operations such as the sale of drugs and the assassination of people. However, in the last year, the story of Bitcoin has changed as many western hedge funds have created desks and portfolios to help people invest in cryptocurrencies.
Ms Yared has said Goldman does not consider Bitcoin as a fraud and that the bank keeps getting requests from clients who want to hold Bitcoin assets. The bank has also received inquiries from hedge funds, organizations and foundations who have received Bitcoin as donations, as well as newly minted cryptocurrency millionaires.
Goldman Sachs has a lot of work to do before trading Bitcoin. It needs regulatory approval from the US Federal Reserve and New York State authorities. It also needs to figure out how to mitigate the risk from the price volatility of Bitcoin while keeping its clients Bitcoin safe from hackers.