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HSBC doesn’t want in on bitcoin mania

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Hong Kong (CNN Business)HSBC CEO Noel Quinn isn’t buying into the bitcoin craze.

The chief executive told Reuters in an interview this week that his bank has no plans to launch a cryptocurrency trading desk, and “given the volatility, we are not into bitcoin as an asset class.”HSBC confirmed Quinn’s remarks to CNN Business but declined to comment further.

    Bitcoin (XBT) is currently on a roller coaster ride. The virtual currency has continuously made headlines for its wild price swings, and has dropped more than 30% in value this month alone, from roughly $58,000 to just over $39,000 per coin, according to cryptocurrency tracker CoinDesk.

      Bitcoin is still up more than 30% so far this year.Read MoreOne of the major triggers for the recent unpredictability has been Elon Musk. The Tesla (TSLA) CEO frequently causes a stir among investors after sharing his views on cryptocurrencies. Some have also tried to trawl his tweets for clues on Tesla’s investment plans for bitcoin.China has also shaken the market by signaling further plans to curb the industry. Last week, Chinese finance and banking regulators instructed financial institutions and payment firms to not participate in any transactions involving cryptocurrency, or provide related services to their clients.Vice Premier Liu He also told Chinese finance officials late last week that the government would “clamp down on bitcoin mining and trading activity.”Officials elsewhere have expressed concern recently, too. On Monday, Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey warned that cryptocurrencies could be “dangerous.””It’s easy to get carried away with financial innovation,” he said at a virtual Treasury select committee hearing. “It’s why I’m skeptical about crypto assets, frankly, because they’re dangerous and there’s a huge enthusiasm out there.”

      China mines more bitcoin than anywhere else. The government wants that to stopHSBC’s (HSBC) comments come as other financial heavyweights jump on the crypto bandwagon. In 2019, less than two years after JPMorgan (JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon dismissed bitcoin as a “fraud,” his bank unveiled its own digital coin.Morgan Stanley (MS) has also begun offering some of its clients a way to invest in bitcoin, while Goldman Sachs (GS) recently relaunched its cryptocurrency trading desk.Mathew McDermott, global head of digital assets at Goldman Sachs, discussed the decision to jump back into the space in an interview published by the bank’s researchers last week, saying that there was more “client demand, pure and simple.” “Bitcoin is now considered an investable asset,” McDermott added. “There’s no doubt that ‘fear of missing out’ (FOMO) is playing a role.”

        Bridgewater Associates’ billionaire founder Ray Dalio has also gotten in on the action. In an interview with CoinDesk published this week, he said that he’d “rather have bitcoin than a bond,” revealing that he owned some of the currency himself.– Clare Sebastian contributed to this report.


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