FINANCIAL TECHNOLOGY | Staff Reporter, Singapore

Weekly Global News Wrap: Banks scramble with bitcoin as adoption soars; Amex probed for small consumer cards sales

And Germany's Commerzbank sinks into red with $3.3b Q4 loss.


Banks are being forced to contend with bitcoin as its latest ascent and increased adoption amongst investors, corporations, and fintechs spark fears of being left behind.

The sector has been largely reluctant to play in the crypto space, preferring to focus on related technology including blockchain. If one of the six biggest US banks decides to embrace bitcoin, it would be a major stamp of legitimacy for the nascent asset class.

Fear of currency debasement is the major theme of clients who ask about bitcoin, according to the head of a major bank's wealth management business for high-net worth clients. The bank is considering matching buyers and sellers of bitcoin for clients, but is studying how to integrate the cryptocurrency into its risk management systems.

From Reuters

Federal investigators began probing American Express’s (Amex) small business and consumer cards sales practices in January, the company has disclosed.

It received a subpoena from the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, Amex said in a regulatory filing, with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau also demanding information on its sales practices.

“We are cooperating with all of these inquiries and have continued to enhance our controls related to our sales practices. We do not believe this matter will have a material adverse impact on our business or results of operations,” the filing noted.

From Reuters

Germany’s Commerzbank has reported a $3.3b Q4 loss, sinking further into the red as it continued a major restructuring and dealt with the fallout of the pandemic.

The bank also said it would swiftly implement plans to cut 10,000 jobs and close hundreds of branches, and would strive for an operating profit in 2021.

Commerzbank hopes the revamp will revive its fortunes, as it struggles to boost profits amid management reshuffles and strategy flip-flops. It has never fully recovered after a state bailout during the last financial crisis more than a decade ago.

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