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Another Swiss bank delves into cryptoassets

The canton Zug-based Arab Bank Switzerland joins a growing list of established banks now offering clients access to cryptocurrencies.

Arab Bank Switzerland has teamed up with blockchain technology firm Taurus to offer its wealthy clients access to bitcoin and ethereum. The bank joins a growing list of established players joining forces with fintech firms to tap into cryptoassets.

The partnership says it will launch a “new range of digital asset services, including custody and brokerage” of the two largest cryptocurrencies by market share. It utilises the fintech’s “Taurus Protect” crypto storage platform.

“We firmly believe that blockchain will disrupt the financial industry as we know it and we intend to be amongst the first banks to offer digital asset services to our clients in a secure and regulated environment,” stated Arab Bank Switzerlandexternal link CEO Serge Robin. The Swiss bank is part of the Jordan-headquartered Arab Bankexternal link group.

Wealthy banking clients have shown an appetite to include cryptocurrencies within their investment portfolios. But banks have been reluctant to take the new form of digital cash onto their balance sheets for fear of being forced by regulators to set aside large amounts of capital to cover potential losses.

Start-ups specialising in blockchain technology will typically build a bridge between the bank and their clients, storing cryptocurrencies and often offering trading options at a safe distance from the bank itself.

List is growing

Taurusexternal link has already established a partnership with Bank Vontobel with the so-called Digital Asset Vault. Gazprombank Switzerland teamed up with financial software company Avaloq and crypto-storage specialist METACO to develop a similar service.

Earlier this year, Julius Baer announced it would enter the cryptoassets world with a partnership with crypto bank SEBA. Falcon Private Bank and digital bank Swissquote are also active in cryptoassets. Private bank Maerki Baumann is also seeking fintech partners to grow its crypto services.

In the meantime, crypto specialists SEBA and Sygnum have recently been awarded full banking and securities dealer licenses, while Bitcoin Suisse has made a similar application.

The Swiss financial regulator and lawmakers have indicated their willingness to set rules that incorporate cryptoassets into the financial sector.

Full story here
Matthew Allen
When not covering banks, tax disputes, trade, Brexit, the World Economic Forum and FIFA, swissinfo.ch's business correspondent can be found playing cricket on various grounds in Switzerland - including the frozen lake of St Moritz. Initials: mga
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