Several major banks have shown a growing interest in bitcoin and the underlying blockchain technology over the past 18 months. Even though none of these projects have come to fruition just yet, Barclays is making quite a few waves by suddenly accepting charity donations in Bitcoin. Is this a shimmer of things to come, or just a flash in the pan?
Barclays To Accept Bitcoin – We Have Come Full Circle!
From the first day Bitcoin was introduced to the general population, many enthusiasts felt how this virtual currency could prove to be a very stiff competitor to the traditional banking system. Once Bitcoin started making headline news, governments were scrambling to come up with ways to issue warnings about virtual currency and discourage people from getting involved with electronic money not issued by central banks.
In some countries, government officials have officially banned Bitcoin, although those rules are not enforced to the full extent of the law at this time. Despite facing an uphill battle from day one, Bitcoin and the blockchain technology that powers the network seem to have won their first battle. Major UK bank Barclays has publicly announced their involvement with Bitcoin by the end of this year.
Rather than fully embracing Bitcoin, Barclays wants to take things one step at a time. That first step comes in the form of allowing charitable donations to be made in Bitcoin, thanks to a partnership with an unspecified “cryptocurrency exchange platform”. Judging from the information we have now, Bitcoin users can send their donation in virtual currency, which will then be exchanged to fiat currency on behalf of Barclays.
At the time of publication, Barclays was experimenting with two different Bitcoin “labs”, both of which can be found in the city of London. Roughly 75 Barclays staff members are working in these “labs” around the clock, exploring the options and benefits of Bitcoin and blockchain technology. As a cost-cutting measure, virtual currencies make a lot of sense for the traditional financial system.
Other Major Banks To Follow Barclays’ Example?
Barclays is not the only major bank exploring the potential offered by blockchain technology, as well as the cost-cutting measures introduced by Bitcoin payments. BBVA, Santander and many more banks around the world are actively working on adopting blockchain technology to suit their needs in the near future.
It looks like Bitcoin will be disrupting the financial ecosystem as we know it, but not per sé in the manner most people had hoped for. That being said, seeing public announcements made by major banks such as Barclays will only help raise Bitcoin awareness and bring on a slew of positive media headlines for virtual currency in general.
Blockchain technology allows existing financial institutions to expand their offerings in underbanked and unbanked parts of the world. Setting up a traditional infrastructure there, is not profitable at all, which is part of the reason citizens in these countries struggle to make ends meet under the existing financial ecosystem. Bitcoin and blockchain technology offer the tools to change that situation.
Images courtesy of Barclays, Shutterstock