A number of Swiss Banks participates in cryptocurrency race
Switzerland’s banking industry has long been well-known for privately wealth protection, so Bitcoin is soon considered a natural fit for the nation’s financial sector by some bankers.
However, such bankers may still be a small number. For instance, Zurich-based SEBA Bank AG opened in November 2019 with a universal banking license and a suite of services extending from fiat storage to crypto custody. A crypto-connected debit card automatically converts to fiat for regular shopping and crypto-trading options through the bank’s mobile app.
SEBA CEO Guido Bühler said the bank raised 100 million Swiss francs (roughly $103.4 million) from Guy Schwarzenbach, a private investor and founder of Black River Asset Management. Mr. Schwarzenbach also said backend API decides the value of SEBA app trades integrations with global exchanges, provided “extremely competitive” pricing compared to over-the-counter trades.
Schwarzenbach said he feels excited as SEBA’s upcoming deployment of a margin and lending business, including options and derivatives.
Still, SEBA was not the first bitcoin-friendly Swiss bank. The private bank Falcon Group has also launched bitcoin management services since 2017. Matthew Blake, the World Economic Forum’s monetary systems lead, said crypto-friendly, fully licensed banks is an emerging trend.
Similarly, the Swiss crypto startup Bitcoin Suisse has also applied for a universal banking license with the aim of providing everything from staking services to loans. Bitcoin Suisse’s marketing leader Ian Simpson said they did not apply for a banking license in order to be like every other bank. They will offer cash accounts for their clients, in their own name. They will also have the ability to launch trading crypto securities, stablecoins, and synthetics, such as mini-futures and products to short the major crypto assets.
Swiss crypto banks
Among such banks up to now, SEBA is the only bank holding various of many fiat currencies, including American dollars, Singaporean dollars, and Hong Kong dollars, plus trading cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, ether and Stellar lumens.
Bühler said that users can open an account over the phone in 15 minutes, they even don’t have to go to Switzerland if they are an accredited investor. He said the young bank already serves globally high-net-worth individuals and institutional investors, excluding the United States and a few blockchain startups.
Schwarzenbach, who led Lightning Network node that he made using a Raspberry Pi, said bitcoin banking makes sense for the physical security benefits. He wants to protect himself from hurting by someone to get his bitcoin stash.
Schwarzenbach added that open source decentralized finance (DeFi) platforms could provide comparable financial infrastructure to both the general population and the proverbial 1%. He wants that he will have the ability to develop and adopt that (DeFi) infrastructure, and expects that standards will present themselves with market grown.
Recently, the Swiss government has attempted to show more friendly on the Facebook-led Libra project after the country’s ex-president called the project a failure.