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State-backed Swiss bank to offer crypto trading services

Basler Kantonal bank will enable customers to store and trade cryptocurrencies

A government-owned commercial bank in Switzerland has announced that it will be offering Bitcoin and cryptocurrency investment services through a subsidiary from next year. Basler Kantonal bank is the first state-backed lender to venture into the cryptocurrency space.

A report by local news agency Finews yesterday stated that BKB’s subsidiary, Bank Cler, is presently working to enable customers in the country to store and trade cryptocurrencies. The announcement arrives as a crucial boost to the institutional adoption of cryptocurrency amid the pandemic.

BKB holds a majority stake in Bank Cler — a national banking group with its own banking license separate from BKB. The local government-backed lender is the first cantonal bank in Switzerland to enter the burgeoning cryptocurrency scene. Crypto banks like Seba and Sygnum currently dominate the crypto banking space. BKB’s move to launch products to enable crypto trading is a sure sign of increased demand for crypto services in the country.

A BKB spokesperson confirmed the news, stating that: “In the BKB Group, we are working to offer our clients a solution for the trading and deposit of selected cryptocurrencies”.

“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,” the spokesperson explained.

The spokesperson further stated that the development of crypto trading services was at an early stage; hence, there was no date set for the launch. BKB has also not specified what types of cryptocurrency will be made available, “This topic is being driven forward within the BKB Group by the digital competence center of Bank Cler,” the BKB spokesperson said.

Bank Cler has also appointed popular crypto expert, Alain Kunz, as its head of digital assets. The bank stated that the crypto drive was undertaken to meet the demands of the bank’s young clientele, who wish to invest in digital asset classes.

With its very own “crypto valley”, Switzerland is one of the most crypto-friendly jurisdictions in the world. Swiss SIX Exchange-listed bank, Hypothekarbank Lenzburg, was the first Swiss bank to provide company accounts for blockchain and crypto-related fintech companies back in 2018. A top-five Swiss bank, Julius Baer witnessed a surge of over 30% in its net profit after listing Bitcoin and other cryptos in the first half of 2020.

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