Schwab says needs regulatory clarity on crypto before any offerings



By John McCrank

NEW YORK, April 22 (Reuters) - Charles Schwab Corp SCHW.N is looking "closely" and "cautiously" at the cryptocurrency market and is waiting for regulators to give more guidance around the digital currencies before considering offering crypto capabilities on its platform, the head of the brokerage said on Thursday.

"We would like to see more regulatory clarity," Schwab Chief Executive Officer Walt Bettinger said on a call with analysts. "And if and when that comes, you should expect Schwab to be a player in that space in the same way it has been a player in other investment opportunities across the spectrum."

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission appears likely to draft its first guidelines for cryptocurrencies after the agency's new chairman, Gary Gensler, earlier this month promised to provide "guidance and clarity" to the rapidly evolving market.

The SEC has not adopted rules specifically tailored to cryptocurrencies and how they should be treated by people and companies, which some argue has created an unclear rule book.

The value of cryptocurrencies has experienced a multi-fold rise in recent years, driven in part by investors seeking high-yielding assets amid low interest rates.

Bitcoin BTC= , the biggest cryptocurrency, reached a record high last week ahead of the trading debut of U.S. cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase COIN.O , but its rally has since cooled.

San Francisco-based Schwab, which has 31.9 million active brokerage accounts, also said it was closely watching for any new developments on whether regulators will allow a crypto-based investment-oriented product like an exchange-traded fund.

"We recognize a bit, I'd say, well, what's going on," Bettinger said.

"If Charles Schwab, the company, decides to participate in the crypto market, we will be highly competitive, we will be disruptive, and we will be client-oriented," Bettinger said.


Reporting by John McCrank; Editing by Steve Orlofsky

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