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Financial institutions adjust to cryptocurrency wave


Banks and financial institutions are beginning to acknowledge digital ledger technology and cryptocurrency as risks in recent filings.

“Many established financial institutions are utilizing the underlying technology in some way or another, and almost all of those are talking about what implications this has from a risk perspective,” said Jackie Quintal, financial institutions practice leader for Aon Risk Solutions in Chicago.

In a Feb. 26 regulatory filing, New York-based Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said: “We may be, or may become, exposed to risks related to distributed ledger technology through our facilitation of clients’ activities involving financial products linked to distributed ledger technology, such as blockchain or cryptocurrencies, our investments in companies that seek to develop platforms based on distributed ledger technology, and the use of distributed ledger technology by third-party vendors, clients, counterparties, clearinghouses and other financial intermediaries.”

Similarly, Charlotte, North Carolinabased Bank of America Corp. also said cryptocurrencies pose a “material risk” to its business in its annual filing, claiming the new technology could hamper antimoney laundering efforts because it makes it more difficult to track funds.

“You’re starting to see more institutional organizations get involved, so it’s very interesting to see the developments in the banking space,” said Patrick Schmid, vice president of The Institutes RiskBlock Alliance, the digital ledger technology consortium started by The Institutes, the insurance industry education and research organization in Malvern, Pennsylvania.

“Cryptocurrency doesn’t appear to be going away, and for that reason financial services are going to have to adjust,” Mr. Schmid said.



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