Barclays has announced that it will start testing bitcoin, citing the digital currency's "potential to change financial services". Derek White, the UK bank's chief design and digital officer, told the Sunday Times that a partnership with a bitcoin exchange had been sought following research into cryptocurrency in its London offices.

The unnamed bitcoin exchange will assist charities looking to accept bitcoin as a payment method, though no further details were given. Barclays did not respond to a request for comment from IBTimes UK by the time of publication.

Two separate spaces are used by Barclays for bitcoin and blockchain research, one in Notting Hill and the other in Old Street. An area in Whitechapel is also used for "inviting start-ups, academics, the government, to work at the space to connect with others that are interested in the bitcoin and blockchain community", the Sunday Times reported.

Living on bitcoin: Is it possible to survive on the virtual currency? IBTimes UK

Earlier this year, the UK government announced plans to invest £10 million into a bitcoin research initiative as part of its 2015 budget. The funding followed a call for information about digital currencies in November 2014 that garnered responses from UK banks, including HSBC.

"The government recognises that the technology associated with digital currencies offers considerable promise, making it possible for users to transfer value (or other information) quickly, efficiently and securely, providing a permanent record of what has taken place, and without the need for a trusted third party to oversee the process" the government's report stated.

"The government considers that digital currencies, when used legitimately, offer an innovative, alternative payment option, which competes with existing payment models and has particularly clear short-term advantages for micro-payments, overseas remittances and cross-border trade."