Back in July, 2017 Swiss Falcon Private Bank announced it will offering crypto asset management services for bitcoin, ethereum, litecoin and bitcoin cash. Back then, the move was a contentious one, as most financial institutions in Switzerland are skeptical towards the budding crypto industry, citing security concerns and market unpredictability. Such policy has forced Swiss crypto businesses to look for pastures new and many of them are relocating their operations to pro-crypto Liechtenstein.
However, another major Swiss private bank has joined the fray as Maerki Baumann declared it will be accepting crypto clients and virtual currency deposits. There is a catch though – the stored digital assets have to be mined by the client or received in exchange for a service. A curious requirement to say the least and it is still unclear how Maerki Baumann will determine the origin of the tokens.
It seems the bank is not all that happy to dip their feet into crypto waters, as, according to the original statement, “Maerki Baumann closely monitors the development of these investment vehicles and the underlying regulation without our commitment to engage in this area. This concerns investments in cryptocurrencies as well as the technologies required to trade and store these instruments. We currently see cryptocurrencies as alternative investment vehicles, but we have limited experience and data (prices, volatility, trading volumes) available in our house.“
Maerki Baumann has recently published an article, labeled ‘Cryptocurrencies – What exactly are they?‘ by Milko G. Hensel, Deputy Head of IT and Digitisation at the bank. The publication goes over the basics of digital coins and blockchain technology, explaining them in a very clear and beginner-friendly manner.
However it ends with the author advising against any major investment in cryptocurrencies due to uncertainties such as fraudulent ICOs, regulatory ambiguities and volatility among others. Thus the crypto acceptance by Maerki Baumann seems a bit odd and is most likely a reaction to the growing institutional demand for advice on digital asset investments.
Alain Kunz, CEO of Swiss startup Coinlab Capital claimed that “On one hand, the government declares Switzerland a crypto nation and wants to become a business hub for blockchain technology. On the other hand, the banks make life difficult for the blockchain and crypto start-ups to obtain banking relationships — essentially killing the emerging businesses.”
Despite the negative outlook on cryptocurrencies from national financial giants, Switzerland remains one of the most prominent crypto hubs worldwide. SIX Group, the company behind the Swiss stock exchange announced its plans to launch a trading platform as well as settlement and custody service for digital assets.
The Financial Times talked to an unnamed top policymaker in Switzerland, who said that “Switzerland’s fast-growing cryptocurrency industry could have full access to conventional banking services by the end of the year, removing one of the restrictions to future growth.”
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I have been following the crypto markets since mid 2017, just in time to witness the incredible surge of the digital asset industry. Fascinated by the potential of blockchain technology I’ve started to dig deeper and that’s how I ended up meeting the Toshi Times team. I hold a Political Science degree, therefore the crypto regulation development is particularly interesting for me. I’m also heavily involved with music, running my own label, a YouTube channel and working with distribution. People call blockchain the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ and I believe it will change our daily lives in the coming years and we will have the front row seats to witness it.