After experimenting with bitcoin in its London “labs,” Barclays is set to become the first major bank to accept the digital currency.
The bank initially will test bitcoin's use by letting people make donations to charities with it.
Barclays has long expressed enthusiasm for embracing digital finance, using its Accelerator program for startups to “support new businesses to deliver their breakthrough innovations in fintech,” according to a company release earlier in the summer. The program's 13-week second cohort concluded in June with bitcoin company Safello among the seven of 10 companies in this round that are exploring business opportunities with Barclays. The release noted at the time that Safello, whose bitcoin spending platform has enrolled 20,000 users in Europe, said it had “signed a proof of concept (PoC) with Barclays to explore how blockchain technologies could be harnessed in the financial services sector” and added the PoC is the first “of its kind that a UK high street bank has announced with a bitcoin company.”
Barclays Chief Design and Digital Officer Derek White was quoted in the June release as saying the bank is “embracing the digital revolution, exploring innovations early on so that we can help to shape their development and co-create the future of financial services” and is positioning itself as “the ‘Go-To' bank.”
The Sunday Times on Aug. 30 quoted White as saying that “Barclays is enabling the bitcoin exchange to help charities accept bitcoin.”
White also told the New York Times Dealbook Friday that he attributed the current “pull and interest” in bitcoin to the “recognition that, ‘Wow, we can use this to change the fundamental model of how we operate to create our future.”