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Switzerland’s BKB plans to offer cryptocurrency trading and custodial services via subsidiary

It will be the first government-owned bank in Switzerland to offer cryptocurrency services.

Wed, 05 Aug 2020, 11:29 am UTC

The increasing adoption of cryptocurrency is now being felt even in the banking industry. While traditional banking institutions used to view digital currencies with caution, some are already warming up to their use and are now starting to offer crypto-related services to their clients.

Basler Kantonalbank (BKB) announced that it plans to offer cryptocurrency services to its clients through its subsidiary Bank Cler, according to Bitcoin.com. This will allow Bank Clear clients to store and engage the trading of cryptocurrencies.

BKB is owned by the Swiss Canton of Basel City with total assets of around $49 billion. The government-owned financial institution, which is Switzerland’s eighth-largest bank, holds a majority stake in Cler.

“In the BKB Group, we are working to offer our clients a solution for the trading and deposit of selected cryptocurrencies,” the bank told Cointelegraph. “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.”

At the moment, BKB did not specify which will be available to Bank Cler clients. The bank also did not yet release a tentative date for the service’s launch.

The move will make BKB the first government-owned bank in the country to enter the cryptocurrency space. “This topic is being driven forward within the BKB Group by the digital competence centre of Bank Cler,” a BKB spokesperson said.

Switzerland is known for its crypto-friendly government. The Hypothekarbank Lenzburg, a Swiss SIX Exchange-listed bank, became the first bank in the country to offer company accounts for blockchain and crypto fintech firms in August 2018. Meanwhile, the unlisted family-owned bank Maerki Baumann became the second bank to accept cryptocurrency when it offered the service in August 2018.

In December 2019, BKB was given a “stable” outlook by S&P Global Ratings. “We expect BKB to remain the eighth-largest bank in Switzerland, with total assets of CHF45 billion [$49 billion] as of June 30, 2019 … consolidating its subsidiary Bank Cler, which had total assets of CHF18 billion at the same date,” S&P Global wrote.

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