Swiss Regulators Award First Banking Licenses to Blockchain Banks 


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FINMA, Switzerland’s financial regulatory body, recently awarded its first banking and securities dealers’ licenses to two Swiss blockchain banks, according to a report by Finews on August 26, 2019. The license comes after the regulatory body released a guideline regarding cryptocurrency and blockchain in the country. 

Swiss Watchdog Grants Conditional Licences  

SEBA Crypto AG, based in Zug, and Sygnum AG, based in Zurich, on Monday, August 26, received banking and securities dealers’ licenses from the Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA). A first for the Swiss regulator, the license will enable the banks to cater to the needs of professional and institutional customers. 

SEBA Crypto had in 2018 applied for the banking and securities dealers’ licenses after raising $103 million. Reacting to the approval, SEBA Crypto stated via its website that the license would ensure that the company closes the gulf between the cryptocurrency industry and the traditional financial sector. 

A comment from the CEO of SEBA, Guido Bühler, reads:

 “Today SEBA sets a new standard as a licensed integrated bank connecting the old and the new world. SEBA is a safe gateway between traditional banking and the digital asset market. We are proud to have built, in only 17 months, a licensed bank that fits into the digital environment of the 21st century.”

SEBA’s partners include Julius Bär Group AG, a private bank and one of Switzerland’s largest banks.

Zurich-based Sygnum AG also commented on the milestone achieved by the blockchain bank. According to the Co-founder and Chairman of Sygnum, Luka Müller-Studer:

“Today’s license announcement is a game-changer. By methodologically incorporating digital assets into traditional banking, and injecting much needed DLT-driven agility, Sygnum is accelerating the development of an important new asset class.”

Sygnum has some prominent names in its team, which includes Peter Wuffli, former CEO of UBS, a board member, and Philipp Hildebrand, former banking official at Swiss National Bank, who acts as an adviser for Sygnum. 

However, the banking and securities license is conditional for both banks pending when they complete other requirements listed by FINMA. SEBA is expected to officially take off in October 2019, following successful completion of all FINMA’s criteria. 

FINMA is Open to Cryptocurrency Development

While FINMA approved its first banking and securities dealer license, BTCManager reported that the regulator also released a new guideline for blockchain payment platforms and cryptocurrency companies to prevent the use of cryptocurrency for criminal activities. 

Per the report, cryptocurrency and blockchain platforms operating in the country must adhere to the existing KYC/AML regulations in Switzerland and also required that blockchain and cryptocurrency platforms maintain a list of clients’ transactions. 

Back in July 2019, Bitcoin Suisse, a Swiss-based cryptocurrency and financial service provider, applied for a banking and securities dealers’ licenses from FINMA. Cryptocurrency firm, Crypto Fund AG received an asset manager license from FINMA in October 2018.

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