A top Goldman Sachs executive looked to clear the air Thursday about the bank’s cryptocurrency ambitions after reports that it was abandoning plans to open a trading desk for cryptocurrencies.
“I never thought I would hear myself use this term but I really have to describe that news as fake news,” Goldman Sachs Chief Financial Officer Martin Chavez said on stage at the TechCrunch Disrupt Conference in San Francisco.
The price of bitcoin and other top cryptocurrencies tumbled after the initial report earlier this week. The Wall Street giant has been considering the launch of some sort of cryptocurrency option for clients for the past year. But it’s never been quite clear just what the bank was planning.
“In response to client interest in digital currencies, we are exploring how best to serve them in this space,” a Goldman spokeswoman told CNBC in October.
The bank’s outgoing CEO Lloyd Blankfein tweeted in October that Goldman was “still thinking about bitcoin,” and that the bank was “not endorsing/rejecting.”
Chavez on Thursday looked to knock down this week’s report about the banking dialing back plans, but also make clear that there’s never been a timeline for this effort.
“When we talked about exploring digital assets that it was going to be exploration that would be evolving over time,” Chavez said. “Maybe someone who was thinking about our activities here got very excited that we would be making markets as principal and physical bitcoin, and as they got into it they realized part of the evolution but its not here yet.”
Issues with bitcoin’s volatility, security, and where to store the actual assets have all been barriers to entry for institutional investors. The possibility of establishments like Goldman entering the market have boosted sentiment, and prices in the past year.
Bitcoin has struggled to recover to its high near $20,000 hit in December. The value of the entire cryptocurrency market has dropped by more than 65 percent this year, according to data from CoinMarketCap.com.