El Corte Inglés, allegedly the third-largest department store chain in the world, has entered a partnership with Deloitte, one of the “big four” accounting firms, to develop and launch a crypto exchange aimed at El Corte Inglés’ 11 million registered customers.
The retailer has hired Deloitte to develop a technological platform through which it can offer crypto trading to customers registered with its credit card, sources close to the negotiations have confirmed, reported by Spanish news outlet Cotizalia last week.
To facilitate the coming service, El Corte Inglés, assisted by Deloitte, has set up a new company called Bitcor, which will allow its clients to buy and sell currencies such as bitcoin (BTC), ether (ETH), and others. El Corte Inglés registered Bitcor last year with the European Union Intellectual Property Office (Euipo), the European Union’s trademark and patent office, to offer “financial services, financial transactions related to currency exchange and currency trading.”
Months of internal debate
The decision to enter the world of crypto comes after several months of internal debate on the suitability of venturing into crypto, according to reports. Deloitte, in turn, will be supported by Minos Global, a Spanish venture specialized in blockchain technology created by former employees of Deloitte.
El Corte Inglés’ entrance into crypto coincides with steps taken by Six Group, the owner of the Spanish stock market, to ally with LMAX Group, an operator of currency and cryptocurrency trading platforms for institutional investors, to launch crypto-asset futures trading. This agreement will allow professional investors to invest in bitcoin and ethereum futures settled in dollars.
The news of El Corte Inglés’ interest in offering crypto trading to its customers comes right in the face of European supervisory authorities warning consumers that crypto assets are highly risky and speculative and that consumers run the risk of losing all their money.
An option within a range of alternatives for investors
El Corte Inglés’ customers are mainly consumers who will, besides crypto, be offered the opportunity to invest in mutual and pension funds of Mutua Madrileña, as the result of an agreement signed with the insurance group. Sources close to El Corte Inglés indicate that Bitcor will be an option within a range of alternatives for investors more akin to risk or who want to diversify.
According to a report by Finbold, it’s worth noting that Spain, where El Corte Inglés is headquartered, had decided to begin officially regulating cryptocurrencies earlier this year, following the approval of the draft of the Comisión Nacional del Mercado de Valores (CNMV), the National Securities Market Commission of Spain, by the council of state in December 2021.
However, cryptocurrencies are still approached with skepticism by some important financial figures in the country, including the Bank of Spain’s governor Pablo Hernández de Cos, who has sought tighter control of the cryptocurrency market, including its monitoring, regulation, and supervision. Hernández de Cos’ position was that this is vital for the country to cope with the dangers of cryptocurrencies and the DeFi sector.
The EU is far from done with crypto
Hernández de Cos’ position coinsides with parts of the EU as well. Just recently the European Parliament Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs voted against a ban on Proof-of-Work (PoW) consensus mechanisms providing security to cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ether. Had it been passed, the ban would have effectively put a stop to the usage of such PoW-based cryptocurrencies in the European Union (EU).
The EU is, however, far from done with crypto. Another bill, with language aimed at the crypto industry and unhosted wallets, in particular, is up for a vote on Thursday this week.
Again, the EU Parliament’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs will vote on draft proposals to do with AML regulation. This includes a change to the Transfer of Funds Regulation (TFR) that will extend the obligation of financial institutions to provide accompanying data on the payer and payee each time crypto funds greater than €1,000 are transferred, including transfers to or from unhosted wallets.