In its latest SEC filings, the Bank of America outlined some of the cryptocurrency risks it faces (along with, implicitly, the banking industry writ large). Several paragraphs caught my attention:
We operate in a highly competitive environment and will continue to experience intense competition from local and global financial institutions as well as new entrants, in both domestic and foreign markets. Additionally, the changing regulatory environment may create competitive disadvantages for certain financial institutions given geography-driven capital and liquidity requirements. For example, U.S. regulators have in certain instances adopted stricter capital and liquidity requirements than those applicable to non-U.S. institutions. To the extent we expand into new business areas and new geographic regions, we may face competitors with more experience and more established relationships with clients, regulators and industry participants in the relevant market, which could adversely affect our ability to compete. In addition, technological advances and the growth of e-commerce have made it easier for non-depository institutions to offer products and services that traditionally were banking products, and for financial institutions to compete with technology companies in providing electronic and internet-based financial solutions including electronic securities trading, marketplace lending and payment processing. Further, clients may choose to conduct business with other market participants who engage in business or offer products in areas we deem speculative or risky, such as cryptocurrencies. Increased competition may negatively affect our earnings by creating pressure to lower prices or credit standards on our products and services requiring additional investment to improve the quality and delivery of our technology and/or reducing our market share, or affecting the willingness of our clients to do business with us.
Then there was the more basic question of compliance:
[O]ur international operations are also subject to U.S. legal requirements. For example, our international operations are subject to U.S. laws on foreign corrupt practices, the Office of Foreign Assets Control, know-your-customer requirements and anti-money laundering regulations. Emerging technologies, such as cryptocurrencies, could limit our ability to track the movement of funds. Our ability to comply with these laws is dependent on our ability to improve detection and reporting capabilities and reduce variation in control processes and oversight accountability.
In my view, these are more than just boiler plate risks. They indicate how cryptocurrencies, even while relatively small relative to other sectors, can still impact the larger financial services environment.