Bank of New York Mellon, the oldest bank in the United States, is embarking on the latest fashionable financial product, Bitcoin: the institution announced Thursday that it plans to manage digital assets on behalf of its clients.
Virtual currencies are particularly in vogue at the moment, with Uber’s CEO also saying Thursday that he may eventually accept them as a means of payment.
« Just as we accept all forms of local currency, we will be looking at whether cryptomoney and/or bitcoin could be used to make transactions , » Dara Khosrowshahi told CNBC.
Bitcoin reached a new high on Thursday at around 9:20 a.m. at 48 364.05 dollars, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Founded in 1784, BNY Mellon has created a new unit dedicated to cryptomoney, and is currently working on the development of a platform that can store and administer them.
« BNY Mellon is proud to be the first major global bank to announce its intention to provide an integrated service for numériques assets, » said Roman Regelman, head of digital services at BNY Mellon.
« La growing customer demand for digital assets, the maturity of advanced solutions and regulatory clarification provide us with a great opportunity to extend our current service offerings to this area émergent , » he added.
The bank has yet to obtain certain approvals, but hopes to launch its service within the year.
Bitcoin and other cryptosystems are far from being universally accepted: Janet Yellen, Joe Biden’s new Treasury Secretary, for example, recently called cryptosystems « principalement utilisées » for funding illegal activities and said the government needed to ensure that they did not become a means of laundering dirty money.
While some financial institutions offer their clients the possibility of managing Bitcoin-based financial products, deposit banks generally refrain from holding them directly due to the lack of a clear legal status for the virtual currency.
Created by anonymous individuals and managed by a decentralised network, virtual money is particularly volatile. No major central bank recognizes Bitcoin as a currency in its own right.
This does not prevent speculators from betting on its fluctuations and attracting some big names like Tesla: the manufacturer of electric vehicles announced Monday that it has invested 1.5 billion dollars in Bitcoin and plans to accept the virtual currency as a means of payment for its cars.
The credit card issuer Mastercard, which already offered via partners cards specifically dedicated to encryption, announced Wednesday that it would start accepting and managing some virtual currencies on its own network as early as this year.
The world’s largest asset manager BlackRock and online payment companies Square and PayPal have also recently announced forays into the cryptomoney market.
Some companies remain on guard.
Uber’s boss said on CNBC Thursday that he does not plan to buy bitcoin directly with the company’s money.
The boss of the car manufacturer General Motors, Mary Barra, had also indicated on Wednesday that she had « pas planned to investir » in the virtual currency.