Initially all reluctant towards cryptocurrencies, more and more major international banks have finally decided to get started in this area.
Faced with the rise of cryptocurrencies and the interest of individuals and more recently of investors, the major banks are trying to make their mark in this area.
In this area, US banks have a clear advantage as the cryptocurrency ecosystem in the United States remains more developed and mature than the European ecosystem. For example, according to US giant Fidelity, about 80 million Americans own or have had investments in digital currencies.
On Thursday, famed US bank Goldman Sachs became the first bank to offer a secured loan in Bitcoin, allowing borrowers to use Bitcoin as collateral for a cash loan. It also became the first global bank in March to trade bitcoin options over-the-counter with Galaxy Digital, a crypto-focused asset manager.
But Goldman Sachs is not the only US bank following this trend. Some also want to allow their clients to diversify their portfolios by exposing them to cryptocurrencies. Over the past year, the giants Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan Chase and Well Fargo have given their high net worth clients access to these assets.
Likewise, US banks, faced with the rise of cryptocurrency trading platforms, especially giants like Robinhood and Revolut, have decided to improve their trading services. For example, since March 2021, Golman Sachs has been offering bitcoin futures and undeliverable futures, which allow customers to comment on Bitcoin’s future price. Two other US banks are well on their way to offering this type of service as well: Bank of America and Citigroup.
In Europe, more discrete initiatives
In Europe, initiatives remain more discreet, at a time when European institutions are considering regulating the cryptocurrency sector. At this stage, Germany seems to be ahead. In late February, Germany’s second-largest bank, Commerzbank, applied for a license from the German regulator, allowing it to provide cryptocurrency exchange and custody services. If it were granted such a permit, it would become the first major German bank to take on the adventure. To date, 25 German banking institutions would try to obtain such a grail.
For its part, the largest German bank, Deutsche Bank, is preparing to launch a cryptocurrency custodial service. The announcement was made more than a year ago. Deutsche Bank, contacted by BFM Crypto, declined to comment on a launch date. Last week, Portuguese bank Bison Bank became the first bank in the country to offer cryptocurrency-related services.
Only one bank in France
In France, the major banks remain cautious about cryptocurrencies. When BNP Paribas or Société Générale forge partnerships in the blockchain and cryptocurrencies, they all remain wary. At the end of March, Banque Delubac & Cie became the first French bank to be registered as a digital asset service provider (PSAN) with the AMF. Although the bank had announced that its offer would be available at the end of April, it appears to be experiencing some delay.
“We are going to launch the offering very soon, it is an environment that is very flexible, that is evolving very quickly. We have several launches planned in the coming months with services that will expand along the way,” explains BFM Crypto Edodie. Trevillot, the bank’s compliance manager.
The bank is expected to officially launch its services in mid-May, including its cryptocurrency buying and selling offering and custodial offering. After that, it will consider developing its online banking platform, with a product offering of broader tokens. The bank ensures that the offer affects all customers, from private individuals to institutions.
In Europe, Switzerland is an exception, with its attractive cryptocurrency tax system. In early September, the giant BBVA announced the launch of a cryptocurrency wallet. For its part, Axa Switzerland accepts payment of insurance premiums in bitcoin.
While Swiss banks have so far been cautious about offering cryptocurrency investment opportunities, more than half of the banks surveyed (55%) now plan to launch an offering for cryptoassets in the next three years. recent EY report.
It is clear that banks are getting into cryptocurrencies, and while cryptocurrencies are becoming more and more interesting for individuals and investors, the services are limited to professionals and high net worth clients.