Bitcoin too volatile for us, says HSBC boss

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Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are too volatile and lack the transparency to be safely traded, according to the boss of banking giant HSBC Holdings PLC (LON:HSBA).

Speaking to Reuters, chief executive Noel Quinn said the FTSE 100 bank had no plans to launch a crypto trading desk or offer digital currency as an investment option to its clients, taking a different route than rivals such as Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE:GS) which has restarted its crypto trading department.

READ: Bitcoin, Ethereum decline as China’s crypto crackdown continues

Quinn cited Bitcoin’s volatility as a reason behind the bank’s decision not to pursue crypto trading within its business.

“If our clients want to be there [in crypto] then of course they are, but we are not promoting it as an asset class within our wealth management business”, he said.

The CEO added that similar reasons informed HSBC’s decision not to move into stablecoins, digital currencies that are designed to avoid the wild price swings associated with mainstream cryptos by pegging their value to other assets such as the US dollar.

The banks’ reluctance to get involved in crypto seems to have proven a wise move given the recent plunge in crypto prices, with Bitcoin currently trading around 41% below its all-time high of US$63,346 reached on April 16.

HSBC may also be looking to stay on the right side of Chinese regulators, which over the weekend reiterated a strategy to crack down on crypto mining and the use of digital currencies as a method of payment.

The move by Chinese authorities has left many crypto miners scrabbling to shift their infrastructure out of the country to more accepting jurisdictions.

In early afternoon trading in London on Monday, Bitcoin was up 6.3% over the last 24 hours at US$37,666.

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