Switzerland Shows the Way

8 June, 2018

Switzerland Shows the Way: Bank First to Offer Crypto Business Accounts

Switzerland’s legacy bank, Hypothekarbank Lenzburg, announced this week it was accepting cryptocurrency related businesses as account holders, something many legacy financial institutions outright refuse. Long viewed as a progressive society way ahead of its time, the Swiss are once again leading, … this time it’s doing so in the crypto revolution.

150 Year Old Bank in Switzerland Opens to Crypto Businesses

Switzerland’s mortgage bank Hypothekarbank Lenzburg CEO Marianne Wildi explained, “As a bank that sets itself up technologically and pursues a cooperative strategy in the field of fintech, it is also a matter of credibility to work together with the young sector of crypto and blockchain companies in Switzerland.” Its earliest iteration can be traced back 150 years, and has since morphed into a mortgage, retail, and a private banking services provider, acting locally while being publicly listed.

The Swiss were among the earliest to really see crypto’s potential, becoming a mecca for those interested in the technology and incubating startups along the way. As a rival to the US’s Silicon Valley, an area in Zug has been deemed Crypto Valley for its broad enthusiasm of the phenomenon. Even so, in announcing its new policy Hypothekarbank Lenzburg is the country’s first bank to welcome crypto businesses.

Regional media quoted Ms. Wildi as explaining how much thought went into changing their policy, suggesting guidance came from the country’s relatively permissive regulator, the Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA). In perhaps in an effort to assuage board members’ fears, she also was sure to the extensive vetting that goes into accepting crypto businesses as clients.

Could be a Trend

Prior to Hypothekarbank going all in, the financial community dabbled along the edges of crypto-related business support. Falcon Private Bank, for example, made headlines last year by vaguely interacting with “crypto asset management.” Bank Frick of Liechtenstein continues to offer to its customers cold storage and top coin access such as bitcoin cash, bitcoin core, litecoin, ether, and ripple. [Switzerland Shows the Way: Bank First to Offer Crypto Business Accounts]

Ms. Wildi elaborated on just how their new police would shake out, more or less handing over the task to contractor Geissbühler, Weber & Partner AG. “They already have a lot of cryptographic know-how and analyze customer inquiries about the legal consequences and backgrounds,” she assured. “After due diligence they give us a recommendation, and the decision then follows. It’s true that the customer review process is more involved in such relationships, but it does not make any difference to other customer relationships insofar as compliance processes have to work flawlessly anyway.”

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