HSBC Adds Coinbase to Crypto Ban List

Despite the growing embrace of cryptocurrencies among institutions and retail investors, HSBC is sticking to its policy of avoiding virtual currencies and stocks correlated to them.

Europe’s largest bank in Europe, with total assets of $2.715 trillion, is likely to avoid Coinbase’s newly listed COIN stock because of lingering worries about crypto’s role in money laundering and criminal activity.

«HSBC has no appetite for direct exposure to virtual currencies and limited appetite to facilitate products or securities that derive their value from virtual currencies. This is not a new policy,» Ankit Patel, HSBC corporate media relations manager, told crypto news platform Coindesk.

Last week, the bank confirmed that it stopped customers of its online trading platform InvestDirect from adding MicroStrategy stock to their portfolios, calling them a «virtual currency product.» The company holds about $5.5 billion in bitcoin, or about 80 percent of its $6.8 billion market capitalization.

Crypto Goes Mainstream 

Coinbase debuted on Nasdaq last Wednesday in a direct listing, in what was seen as another key step towards cryptocurrencies becoming a mainstream medium of exchange.

The listing of Coinbase’s means that even if average investors don’t want to buy or sell cryptocurrencies on their own, they can still can invest in the cryptocurrency economy by taking a stake in one of its biggest players. After a day of trading, the U.S.’ largest cryptocurrency exchange had a market capitalization of $86 billion.

Financial Giants Join Fray

To stay competitive amid client demand for digital assets, financial sector giants have ramped out their offerings. These include BNY Mellon, which announced the introduction of crypto custodial services and Morgan Stanley, which will roll out a bitcoin offering to wealth management clients and is reportedly mulling exposure in Bitcoin through its investment arm, Counterpoint Global. Goldman Sachs has also said it would offer investments in bitcoin and other digital assets to its wealth clients.

Outside of the U.S., notable global banks that have also launched crypto offerings include Standard Chartered and DBS.