Largest U.S. Bank by Market Value Takes Steps Into the New Bitcoin Economy
In what appears to be a case of “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em,” giant U.S. mega-bank, Wells Fargo, has assembled a team “to examine how it might safely offer Bitcoin-related services or banking arrangements to virtual currency entrepreneurs.” Wells chief executive John Stumpf said that the bank wants to be certain of what Bitcoin is, as well as what it can and cannot do. He fully admitted that his bank wants to remain up to speed with the Bitcoin economy.
The Financial Times reports:
“Wells Fargo has convened a group of finance executives, virtual currency experts and representatives from the US government to discuss ‘rules of engagement’ with Bitcoin, amid concern about the money laundering risks of the new currency.
The bank, the largest in the US by market value, has emerged as one major financial institution interested in dealing with a potential new Bitcoin economy. But regulatory uncertainty has deterred banks from offering services to virtual currency start-ups.
Wells’ anti-money laundering chief, Jim Richards, has launched a group to examine how it might safely offer Bitcoin-related services or banking arrangements to virtual currency entrepreneurs, according to people familiar with the initiative.
Wells chief executive John Stumpf said it was the bank’s practice to examine financial innovations.
‘We have made enormous investments as a company and as an industry in a payments system that is secure, and we need to be sure we are up to speed with what other things are going on and their risks and rewards,’ he said.
‘We want to make sure we understand what it is, what it does and what it does not . . . . The world is changing and will continue to change. Whether Bitcoin will be a big part of that, who knows?’”
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