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German Banks Might Fully Embrace Cryptocurrencies

11 Dec 2019


Next year will signify an immensely important stage of adoption of cryptocurrencies by the financial institutions of one of the leading countries of the European Union. The news arrived from Germany, the current economic locomotive of Europe.

Just a few days ago, the Bundestag, the federal parliament of Germany, elaborated the bill that permits banks to carry out operations with cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin in particular, as well as exercise the function of custodians and crypto merchants.

Amendment to the Directive, freedom to crypto operations

In essence, the underlying purpose of the proposed bill is to eliminate a specific clause of the 4th Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Directive, also known as Directive 2015/849, that had put a roadblock on banks’ way towards the gradual adoption of cryptocurrencies. In compliance with this clause and its “separation bid”, to be precise, the banks were prohibited from handling cryptocurrencies on their own accord. Instead, they were forced to rely on different third-party custodians or their subsidiary companies to take care of all crypto-related transactions. In a sense, this was a situation where an intermediary requires another intermediary in order to be able to work with a certain asset.

This state of things created a lot of inconveniences and bureaucratic acrimony, let alone that it complexifies the operations with an asset, and a form of digital money, which suppose to make things much more manageable.

The mentioned AML Directive was adopted in 2017, so it took the German government almost two years to comprehend that the current legislation is not entirely effective, especially in the nuances that concern cryptocurrencies. It didn’t only hinder the banks’ ability to work with cryptocurrencies, but also wasn’t doing any good for the customers, who were cautious about entrusting their cryptocurrencies to a third party, which is not much different from storing coin of centralized cryptocurrency exchanges.

Germany might become a go-to place for crypto holders

If the bill acquires consensus of all sixteen states that comprise the Federal Republic of Germany, the banks will be given the green light to provide the all-encompassing exchange, remittance, and custodian services for the customers who hold cryptocurrencies.

In theory, the adoption of the bill should incentivize those who were reluctant to store cryptocurrencies in banks, and also put Bitcoin on the same footing with the traditional securities, for example, bonds, equities, and stocks.

Should the proposal get the necessary approval of all political bodies, the bill is going to be passed by the Bundestag without a hitch and enacted into law in the first half of 2020. Subsequently, Germany might pave itself a way to becoming the largest and the most attractive cryptocurrency haven in Europe, a title that is currently being held by Estonia. In turn, it could set up a new and significant milestone in the mass adoption of cryptocurrencies since Germany represent the fourth-largest economy in the world.

The domestic reaction

The response to the legislative initiative has been nothing but positive. For example, Sven Hildebrant, a senior executive at Distributed Ledger Consulting, said that he fully supports the efforts made by the national legislator to place Germany at the spearhead of cryptocurrency adoption in Europe.

Bundesverband Deutsche Banken (BDB, which is the Association of German Banks and a powerful lobbying group, has also approved the initiative because it will grant better access for institutional investors to the crypto space.

Author: Alex Paulson for


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