British multinational investment bank and financial services company Barclays is reportedly looking to join the cryptocurrency hype among institutional players.Barclays Appoints Chris Tyrer to Lead Digital Assets ProjectA few months ago, Jes Staley, Barclays CEO, ruled out launching their own virtual currency trading desk. However, the bank has reportedly created a “digital assets project” in which it will be figuring out how to approach the fast-growing market.Barclays, one of the world’s largest banks with nearly 120,000 employees across the globe and reporting over £21,000 billion in revenue, has remained on the sidelines when it comes to the trading of digital assets. Goldman Sachs was one of the first large institutional players making a move by using its own money to trade with clients in a number of contracts. The decision saw other financial institutions making the move to launch cryptocurrency trading desks, but Barclays kept its cool.In May 2018, Staley, told a shareholder that he remained skeptical of the technology because of compliance and regulatory issues, but that the bank was exploring the subject of cryptocurrencies. Now, it’s reported that instead of launching a virtual currency trading desk, the bank exploring how it can start trading digital currencies, reports the Financial News. The “digital assets project” will be run by Chris Tyrer, former global head of energy trading.The working group includes Marvin Barth, head of FX and emerging markets macro strategy, and Lee Braine, a senior executive from the CTO office and expert on blockchain technology. Braine recently made comments about distributed ledger technology in an interview.“There are clearly tremendous opportunities for startups in the blockchain space. For investment banking, blockchain-inspired solutions such as shared ledgers and smart contracts should aim to meet the enterprise-scale architectural non-functional requirements […] Different banks implement executable business logic, often operating in a similar way, within their bank. The opportunity here is for executable business logic common across banks, and shared ledgers may provide one potential way of achieving that.”Barclays Joins Institutional Race for Cryptocurrency MarketNews that Barclays is strengthening its “digital asset project” indicates that an eventual launch of a cryptocurrency trading desk may be sooner than one would expect after Staley’s comments in May. Barclays joins a group of institutional players who are gaining confidence in a more regulated, secure, and predictable ecosystem.The institutional race for digital assets may have started with Goldman Sachs, but Morgan Stanley is a strong competitor after revealing their plan of creating a specific desk for institutional traders, ICOs, and arbitrage. This before Goldman Sachs or any of the other major players.JPMorgan Chase has recently appointed DLT talent Oliver Harris to its blockchain initiatives team as Head of Crypto-Strategy. CEO Jamie Dimon once called Bitcoin a “fraud”, but he has been quite open to distributed ledger technology for its promise of disruption.Featured image from Shutterstock.