Barclays has been in discussions with regulators and financial technology – or fintech – firms about bringing cryptocurrencies like bitcoin "into play", the bank's U.K. chief executive told CNBC on Monday.
Ashok Vaswani revealed that the banking giant has met with Britain's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) watchdog to talk about how to make bitcoin safe in response to a question about whether Barclays could support bitcoin.
"We have been talking to a couple of fintechs and have actually gone with the fintechs to the FCA to talk about how we could bring, the equivalent of bitcoin, not necessarily bitcoin, but cryptocurrencies into play," Vaswani told CNBC at the Money 20/20 fintech conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.
"Obviously (it's) a new area, obviously an area we've got to be careful with. We are working our way through it."
Vaswani did not expand on to what extent Barclays could be involved with bitcoin. Barclays has recently been involved in the digital currency space. Last year the bank partnered with social payments app Circle. The start-up, which received a license from the FCA last year, allows users to send money to each other in messages, and supports bitcoin. Barclays provided Circle with an account to store sterling, as well as the payments network to transfer money.
Banks have typically been very cautious of being associated with any companies involved with bitcoin due to the cryptocurrencies bad reputation as being used to buy illegal items on the so-called "dark web".
But the world's largest cryptocurrency by market cap has seen rising retail investor interest, as well as a major rally since the start of the year that has seen its price hit record highs. Even though the price has pulled back in recent days and there is still volatility, regulators are becoming interested in bitcoin, which is lending legitimacy to the digital currency.