In brief

  • Banking giant HBSC today announced that it is not interested in Bitcoin as an asset class.
  • Earlier this year, the bank stopped allowing purchases of MicroStrategy shares.

HSBC has no plans to launch a crypto trading desk or offer cryptocurrencies to its customers, HSBC CEO Noel Quinn told Reuters

“Given the volatility, we are not into Bitcoin as an asset class, if our clients want to be there then of course they are, but we are not promoting it as an asset class within our wealth management business,” Quinn said. 

HSBC’s announcement comes at a time when Bitcoin has come under fire. In the last month, Bitcoin’s price has fallen, with drops of first 26% and then 35% in the last two weeks. Today’s price of approximately $38,000 is a far cry from Bitcoin’s all-time high of about $64,500. 

On May 12, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced that the EV manufacturer had reversed course on Bitcoin and was no longer accepting the cryptocurrency as payment, due to concerns over its carbon footprint. 

“We are concerned about rapidly increasing use of fossil fuels for Bitcoin mining and transactions, especially coal, which has the worst emissions of any fuel,” Musk tweeted

What’s more, three major payment firms in China recently reiterated support for China’s 2017 ban on payment firms engaging in crypto transactions—putting further pressure on Bitcoin and causing its price to drop. 

Seemingly, Bitcoin's price volatility has proven too much for HSBC to throw its hat into the ring. But this is not the first time HSBC has taken a cautious stance on Bitcoin. 

HSBC’s crypto history

Last month, HSBC took a stand against MicroStrategy—a software company led by CEO Michael Saylor, who has fast become one of the loudest Bitcoin advocates on the Internet. 

Since 2020, MicroStrategy has consistently invested in Bitcoin, and Saylor has likened the flagship cryptocurrency to digital gold (and, more effusively, to "a swarm of cyber hornets serving the goddess of wisdom"). However, not everyone shares his enthusiasm. 

On April 8, a message from HSBC appeared online which said, “HSBC has changed the policy on virtual currencies and products related or referencing the performance of virtual currencies.” The message went on to add that new purchases or transfers-in of MicroStrategy shares will not be allowed.