The total cryptocurrency exposures reported by 19 predominantly U.S. banks represented 9.4B euros ($9B), or a just 0.14% of total exposures, according to a recent study by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, the primary global standard setter for banking regulations.
That figure shrank to 0.01% across all 182 banks considered for the exercise, including those that did not report crypto exposure.
The study was based on a new crypto data collection template sent to a number of banks and designed to support the committee’s two documents on the prudential treatment of banks’ cryptoasset exposures it published in June 2021 and June 2022. Those two documents refer to the Basel Committee's efforts to toughen rules that would determine how depository institutions could enter crypto.
The primary crypto exposures featured bitcoin (BTC-USD) (31%) and ethereum (ETH-USD) (22%) as well as other instruments based on those tokens (35%), the study found. The reported exposures spanned an array of crypto-linked banking activities, such as clearing, lending, custody and market making. Most banks provided crypto custody or wallet services, followed by client trading of cryptos or crypto derivatives.
Given the speediness of the crypto market evolution, it's hard to discover whether some banks have under- or over-reported their crypto exposures.
With that being said, the results of the study, "while they are helpful in providing a broad indication of banks’ cryptoasset activity, should interpreted with a degree of caution,” the committee warned, also noting the small number of banks replying didn't help provide a more complete picture.
Banks of all sizes have increasingly deepened their involvement in the cryptosphere - despite a market downturn - as firms come to the realization that blockchain technologies (not necessarily the underlying crypto) could be "here to stay" amid growing interest and usage.
SVB Financial (NASDAQ:SIVB), Customers Bancorp (NYSE:CUBI), Metropolitan Bank (NYSE:MCB), Signature Bank (NASDAQ:SBNY), Bank of New York Mellon (NYSE:BK), BNP Paribas (OTCQX:BNPQF) (OTCQX:BNPQY) and Leumi (OTCPK:BLMIF) are among some of the banks that have taken part in the decentralized finance sector in recent months.
Recall BNY Mellon (BK) reportedly planned to introduce a crypto custody platform later in 2022 in a move that would allow its clients to hold both bitcoin (BTC-USD) and ether (ETH-USD) in digital wallets. And French lender BNP Paribas (OTCQX:BNPQF) (OTCQX:BNPQY) recently partnered with Metaco, a Swiss crypto infrastructure firm that specializes in crypto custody.
In August, the Federal Reserve introduced new guidelines for crypto-focused banks.