The most prestigious banking relationship in crypto has ended.
Barclays, the London-based global bank, is no longer working with cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase, industry sources told CoinDesk. And while Coinbase found a replacement in U.K. upstart ClearBank, according to people familiar with the situation, the change has indirectly inconvenienced the exchange’s users.
That’s because, aside from the cachet of working with a household-name bank, Barclays connected San Francisco-based Coinbase to the U.K. Faster Payments Scheme (FPS), enabling users to instantly withdraw and deposit British pounds at the exchange. The end of the relationship disrupted Coinbase’s access to FPS – which in turn slowed deposits and withdrawals in GBP for U.K. customers, which now take days to process.
The situation is temporary, though, thanks to Coinbase’s new relationship with ClearBank. One of the U.K. “challenger banks” that have sprouted up in recent years to compete with market incumbents, ClearBank is expected to restore Coinbase’s FPS access by the end of the third quarter.
Barclays, ClearBank and Coinbase all declined to comment.Cold feet
Companies that handle cryptocurrency have a tough time getting banking partners, with almost all big-name banks eschewing that business.
Hence, when Coinbase obtained a bank account with Barclays in early 2018, the news was greeted with some fanfare. The exchange was also granted an e-money license by the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and was the first crypto firm to gain access to FPS.
Since then, word on the street is that Barclays got cold feet about crypto clients; people have varying opinions on why this might be the case, but nobody knows for sure.
“It is my understanding that Barclays’ risk appetite has contracted a little – I’m not sure exactly why or what’s been driving that, maybe there has been some activity they are not happy with. But it’s about Bar...