Responding to client demand, Maerki Baumann has become the second Swiss bank to offer its customers the option to make deposits in cryptocurrency.
Financial institutions in Switzerland had been turning against cryptocurrencies due to uncertainties over their legal status. One of the major issues has been ensuring that anti-money laundering and Know Your Customer procedures are done correctly, which can be difficult due to cryptocurrencies’ largely anonymous nature.
Accordingly, many Switzerland-based crypto companies have been taking their business elsewhere, particularly to Liechtenstein, which has a more relaxed regulatory environment.
Maerki Baumann released a statement saying that it, “closely monitors the development of these investment vehicles,” as well as the “underlying regulation” though it does not have a “commitment to engage in this area.”
The bank says that it views cryptocurrencies as “alternative investment vehicles,” but notes that it has “limited experience and data (prices, volatility, trading volumes) available in our house.” It also advises its customers not to engage in “larger investments in cryptocurrencies,” stating that digital assets are not yet “suitable for long-term investment due to the uncertainties outlined above.”
In July 2017 Switzerland’s financial regulator, FINMA, approved Falcon Private Bank for blockchain-related asset management. Arthur Vayloyan, global head of products and services at Falcon described this as “a new chapter in how we exchange money” and that, “as a financial services partner, I think we have to become part of that strategy [i.e. cryptocurrencies].”
Fellow Swiss bank Hypothekarbank Lenzburg has offered bank accounts to Switzerland-based crypto companies since June of this year. Describing the move, Marianne Wildi, the bank’s CEO, said, “as a bank that sets itself up technologically” as well as one which “pursues a cooperative strategy in the field of fintech,” the need to work with the “young sector of crypto and blockchain companies in Switzerland” was a “matter of credibility.”
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