Government-owned Swiss bank dips its toes into the crypto sector

Government-owned Swiss bank dips its toes into the crypto sector
Written by:
Jinia Shawdagor
4th August, 12:40
Updated: 4th August, 12:42
  • This move was driven by the increasing demand for crypto services by the bank’s clients.
  • Bank Cler hired crypto expert Alain Kunz as the head of its digital assets project.
  • It is currently unknown which cryptocurrencies the bank aims to deal with.

Basler Kantonalbank (BKB), a government-owned bank in Switzerland, has waded into the crypto sector through its subsidiary, Bank Cler. A report unveiled this news on August 4, noting that the bank has assets worth approximately £37.5 billion. Founded in 1899, this BKB is the eighth-largest bank in the country and it specializes in offering retail, corporate, and private banking service.

In the report, Bank Cler, formally known as Bank Coop, said that its crypto pursue comes after increasing demand from its younger customers who wish to invest in the nascent sector. Speaking on behalf of the bank, Natalie Waltmann, Bank Cler’s spokesperson, said the bank intends to roll out an offering for the trading and custody of cryptocurrencies in 2021.

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Waltmann added,

“Bank Cler is the digital competence center of our company, to which parent BKB also belongs. Cryptocurrencies are also an issue for us.”

To help streamline its crypto services, Bank Cler disclosed that it is hiring Alain Kunz, a renowned crypto expert as its head of digital assets. Kunz is the CEO of Polarlab, a FinTech company, and the founder of Tokensuisse.

Providing access to financial products

A Basler Kantonalbank spokesperson confirmed this news saying,

“In the BKB Group, we are working to offer our clients a solution for the trading and deposit of selected cryptocurrencies. As an established regional (Basler Kantonalbank) and indeed national (Bank Cler) banking group, we wish to give our clients secure access to these new financial products.”

However, the spokesperson did not unveil which cryptocurrencies it aims to offer through Bank Cler. The spokesperson added that the product’s development is still at an early stage and that there isn’t a fixed date of launch yet.

While Bank Cler and BKB hold separate banking licenses, Waltmann said BKB is also interested in cryptocurrencies.

Pioneering crypto adoption among government-owned banks

Through this move, Basler Kantonalbank has become the first government-owned in Switzerland to dive into the nascent crypto sector, which is currently controlled by crypto banks Seba and Sygnum. Traditional lending firms such as Falcon and Maerki Baumann have also warmed up to crypto as compared to leading banks in the country such as UBS and Credit Suisse. As such, BKB’s bold move puts it ahead of the pack.

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