Several reports have surfaced saying that the Royal Bank of Canada is considering launching a cryptocurrency exchange. This is quite the 180 after they had a ban on buying Bitcoin several years ago, but could also have been interpreted as a sharp reform in the institutional view of investing in Bitcoin.
These reports were later rebuffed by an RBC spokesperson who said these were just exploratory patents. He said:
“While RBC does not comment on ongoing proprietary research and development, we can confirm that these patent filings are not in support of work towards a cryptocurrency exchange for clients.”
Lots of other North American banks have been filing patents in the blockchain and cryptocurrency space, but in this instance, it seems like people are reading into it too much. Additionally, there are other reports that the Canadian central bank would like to adopt cryptocurrency or some sort of a digital currency as a way to track consumer spending habits.
As the bank with the largest market capitalization in Canada, and an institution with a very strong reputation, it would have been extremely positive news if RBC had decided to move forward with a cryptocurrency exchange. However, there is an interesting counter view being presented.
Institutions and Crypto Don’t Mix
Many would think this type of institutional interest would be a good thing, but others see it as having the potential to bring censorship to the table. Bitcoin has become available in most countries without any involvement from major institutions, and the idea of them becoming middlemen that can monitor the trading of cryptocurrency seems like a very dangerous situation.
At a conference run by Cointelegraph, Dr. Pavel Kravchenko stated that he thought a full scale ban of Bitcoin by governments would actually lead to a higher price than if the institutions all decided to adopt Bitcoin. This may sound counterintuitive, but it would actually give Bitcoin a chance to prove its mettle as a store of value that isn’t dependent on any institutions to function.
ProtonMail’s Position On Crypto
There are other ways for businesses to go long crypto without opening a cryptocurrency exchange. For example, it was recently revealed that ProtonMail, a Swiss email service that is known for its high degree of privacy, has not been selling any of the Bitcoin it receives as payment.
As a privacy-oriented email service that is meant to provide a (paid) alternative to Gmail, ProtonMail allows for the option to pay in crypto in order to remain private and untraceable. One customer had tweeted that they felt guilty paying in Bitcoin, as it felt like a failure to “HODL,” and the Twitter account responded saying they hadn’t sold Bitcoin in years.
ProtonMail did consider an ICO in the past, but decided against it. Instead, they have received almost 200 BTC of donations in their wallet and let users pay for the premium service with it (although it isn’t immediately obvious on their landing page).