Barclays to Buy Stakes in Crypto Firm Copper

Barclays Plc is buying a stake in, a UK company specializing in cryptocurrency custody and trading. Under the deal, the UK-based bank is among several new investors joining a funding round for Copper.

Bloomberg media reported on Sunday, citing sources that Barclays is expected to invest a few millions of dollars as part of the round. The fundraising is expected to be completed within days.

Sophie Arnold, head of communications for Copper, confirmed the development but said: “As the funding round is ongoing, we’re unable to comment on this report.”

Copper offers custody, prime broking and settlement services to institutional investors (such as digital currency asset managers, hedge funds, and family offices) investing funds into cryptocurrencies.

Launched in 2018 by Dmitry Tokarev, Copper has drawn investors from big names in the global venture capital sector, such as LocalGlobe, Dawn Capital and MMC Ventures.

In May last year, Copper raised $50 million in a Series B funding round co-led by investors like Dawn Capital and Target Global, joined by LocalGlobe, Illuminate Financial, and MMC Ventures.

Facing Challenges

Although Copper assigned former UK Chancellor Philip Hammond among its advisers in October last year, the crypto firm has continued to face frustrations from the UK financial regulators. Early this month, the UK-headquartered digital asset custody technology provider failed to secure a crypto asset registration from the UK regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

On June 29, the custody startup was dropped from a list of FCA temporary registrants as it was one of the firms considered to lack appropriate systems and controls to counter the risk of being misused for financial crime.

The difficult decision prompted Copper to establish a hub in Switzerland instead after it was accepted as a member of the Swiss Financial Services Standard Association.

Earlier this year, Copper targeted a valuation of at least $3 billion in its latest funding raise but has scaled that back because of the rising crisis in the broader crypto industry.

Crypto firms have had a challenging year, and some have faced risks associated with bankruptcies as major digital assets such as Bitcoin have crashed along with other risk assets globally.

In recent weeks, several major market players, including Three Arrows Capital and Celsius, have filed for bankruptcy, a horrible situation that has undermined development prospects and confidence in the industry’s previously breakneck growth.

Image source: Shutterstock


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Santander’s UK arm follows Barclays in banning payments to Binance

Spain-based bank Santander’s U.K. business will no longer be allowing its customers to send payments to Binance, citing warnings from the Financial Conduct Authority.

Several replies from Santander’s U.K. Twitter help account today said the bank has “decided to prevent payments” to the world’s biggest crypto exchange in an effort to prevent fraud. The bank reportedly told customers they would still be able to withdraw cash from Binance, but it would be “following the FCA’s warning to consumers” in banning payments.

Source: Twitter

Many Santander account holders expressed negative feelings about the bank’s decision:

“As one of your long standing account holders, DO NOT tell me how I can spend MY money,” said Twitter user Brian Moore. “If I choose to use Binance then that is MY choice.”

A London-based user added:

“You are putting innocent, well informed customers at risk of losing significant investment due to your binance block. How is that fair or responsible? People can become victim to fraud or losses in many things; betting, bank scams, phone scams. This is absurd.”

Last month, the Financial Conduct Authority, or FCA, warned consumers that Binance Markets Limited would no longer be allowed to engage in any “regulated activity” in the United Kingdom. While the financial watchdog doesn’t regulate cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC) or Ether (ETH), certain crypto derivatives and that which it considers a security falls under its mandate. The FCA told investors to be “be wary of adverts online and on social media promising high returns on investments in cryptoasset or cryptoasset-related products.”

Binance later responded to the notice, saying that the FCA mandate did not prevent the exchange — — from conducting business in the United Kingdom, as Binance Markets Limited was a separate entity. However, some high-profile financial institutions in the U.K. have already imposed restrictions for customers dealing with Binance.

Related: Binance disappointed by Barclays’ ‘unilateral action’ to block customer payments

This week, British multinational bank Barclays told its customers it would be stopping any credit or debit card payments made to the crypto exchange until further notice, also citing the FCA notice. U.K.-based Starling Bank has seemingly echoed Santander’s position, saying that its customers can deposit crypto in their accounts, but its “international currency provider does not support the purchase of cryptocurrencies.” However, Monzo, another British bank, said today its customers are “welcome to invest in crypto” in response to a question on restrictions concerning the exchange.