Barclays has signed off on a proof-of-concept to trial bitcoin technology.

Following an agreement with bitcoin exchange Safello, the UK bank says it will explore how blockchain technologies could bolster the financial services sector.

Speaking to CoinDesk, Safello CEO Frank Schuil said Barclays’ decision reflected a wider change in traditional finance:

“If a Tier I bank signing a proof-of-concept with a bitcoin company isn’t a sign of the times then I don’t know what is … their attitude is changing and it is changing fast.”

The announcement, made at the Barclays Accelerator demo session in London today, comes as an increasing number of banks are trialling distributed ledgers such as Ripple.

Safello was one of 10 FinTech startups taking part in Barclays’ 13-week accelerator programme, which began last year. Housed in London’s Mile End, companies in the scheme receive mentoring and tools from Barclays, alongside £20,000 seed funding from partner TechStars.

Schuil described the programme as a “mutual learning experience” for Barclays and Safello. While exact details of the pair’s proof-of-concept are currently under wraps, he indicated Safello’s bitcoin spending platform could reach an important demographic for the bank.

“Our target group are the millennials that banks find hard to reach, and we are doing it with a technology that they need to understand,” he said, adding: “In that way and in other ways we are building a bridge between the traditional financial world and bitcoin.”

Six other startups at the event, including blockchain-diamond-tracker Everledger, are reported to be “exploring opportunities” with Barclays.

Barclays image via chrisdorney /

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