Swiss Regulator Gives Green Light to Bitcoin Banks
The Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) has announced on Monday that it has issued banking and securities dealers’ licenses to two “pure-play blockchain service providers” for the first time. The new Swiss crypto banks are SEBA Crypto AG, which is registered in Zug, and Sygnum AG, which is registered in Zurich. With this development they can now offer banking services for institutional and professional crypto clients under supervision by the financial regulator in Switzerland, one of the most advanced markets in the world.
SEBA Crypto AG is expected to officially go live in early October 2019 when a previously announced cooperation with the 125 year-old Swiss private bank Julius Baer will enter into force. The startup raised CHF 100 million in a September 2018 funding round and currently employees more than 60 people. The company wants to enable professional individuals and companies as well as institutional clients to invest, safely keep, trade and borrow against traditional and digital assets. In particular, the future offering will include custody storage, trading and liquidity management as well as asset and wealth management. For cryptocurrency companies based in Switzerland, it will provide accounts and custody for fiat and digital assets.
Andreas Amschwand, Chairman of the Board of SEBA, commented: “The banking licence of the Swiss Financial Market Authority FINMA is not only a milestone for SEBA, it sets a new standard for banking in the Blockchain and digital asset economy. This moment has significance far beyond the Swiss financial industry.”
Sygnum AG has developed a banking solution that embeds digital assets into regulated banking and was built in partnership with Swisscom and Deutsche Börse Group. At its core is an institutional-grade digital custody and fiat-digital asset gateway. Custody is fully integrated with a liquidity platform that offers execution for fiat currencies and major digital assets. Sygnum’s plans for client corporations also include the ability to raise new capital by issuing tokens based on existing financial assets. Additionally, the company offers a loan facility for securing fiat cash flows via loans on digital assets. B2B banking services are also available for existing financial institutions to enable them to provide regulated digital asset products and services to their own customers.
“To date, a lack of institutional-grade custody and a truly integrated banking solution has slowed the adoption of digital assets by institutional investors”, commented Luka Müller-Studer, Co-Founder and Chairman, on Monday. “Today’s licence announcement is a game-changer. By methodologically incorporating digital assets into traditional banking, and injecting much needed DLT-driven agility, Sygnum is accelerating the development of an important new asset class.”