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PwC joins EY in accepting bitcoin for services


PwC has joined EY as the second ‘big four’ accounting firm to accept bitcoin as payments for its advisory and auditing services. Raymund Chao, chairman of PwC Asia-Pacific, announced last week that PwC has accepted its first bitcoin payment in Hong Kong last week, citing an ever-growing embrace of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology among its clients as the reason.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, PwC in Hong Kong revealed it is working with a number of startups involved in bitcoin and the wider cryptocurrency industry, prompting the firm to accept the world’s most widely-known cryptocurrency. Notably, PwC also confirmed its advent into advising clients about crypto funds and investments, cryptocurrency exchanges and initial coin offerings –  a radical new form of fundraising powered by cryptocurrencies.

“This decision helps illustrate how we are embracing new technology and incorporating innovative business models across our full range of services,” Chao said in a statement.

Ernst & Young (EY) in Switzerland became the first accounting and advisory firm to accept bitcoin for both auditing and advisory services since the turn of 2017. EY also installed a Bitcoin ATM among its offices late last year, providing its employees with a digital bitcoin wallet within its in-house EY wallet app. Accepting bitcoin, EY said in late 2016, was essential for EY’s strategy of “digitising itself”. The firm also joined the Bitcoin Association, a Switzerland-based bitcoin advocacy firm, in May.

According to reports the accounting firms have shown more interest in digital currencies than Wall Street banks.

Bank CEOs have had a less favorable view of cryptocurrencies. JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon famously called bitcoin a “fraud”. Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein said Thursday his firm is in no rush to develop a strategy on bitcoin, according to a Bloomberg News report.

Institutional adoption of bitcoin as a currency is slowly catching on, not quite as quickly as financial institutions’ embrace of the cryptocurrency as a financial instrument.

In a fortnight, CME Group – the world’s largest exchange owner – will launch its bitcoin futures contracts product, signaling a growing trend within Wall Street that is now warming to bitcoin. New York-based Nasdaq – the world’s second-largest stock exchange after the NYSE – is also planning to launch its bitcoin futures product in the first half of 2018.