A startup in Switzerland has already raised 100 million Swiss francs ($100 million) to put up a bank that would offer cryptocurrency-related products, news agency Reuters reported.
SEBA Crypto AG also wants to offer more traditional banking services to cryptocurrency firms that many existing financial institutions are reluctant to serve due to know-your-customer (KYC) and anti-money laundering (AML) regulations.
SEBA CEO Guido Buehler, a former manager at UBS, said, “SEBA wants to bridge the gap between traditional banking and the new world of crypto… Our mission is to become a market leader in the convergence of traditional finance with the crypto economy.”
Among SEBA’s backers are Swiss firm Black River Asset Management LLC and Hong Kong-based Summer Capital.
The company has already applied for a banking and securities dealer license with the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA), which has already approved the entry of several cryptocurrency-related firms into the financial sector. According to Reuters, FINMA has confirmed that it has been in talks with SEBA regarding their application.
Chairman Andreas Amschwand, another former UBS manager, said, “In Switzerland we have commitment from various authorities to establish a comprehensive regulatory environment for the development of blockchain technology and the sustainable, stable growth of crypto assets. This makes Switzerland the ideal place to launch a new financial services paradigm.”
Last February, FINMA issued its guidelines for initial coin offerings (ICOs), making Switzerland one of the first countries in the world with such a regulatory framework.
Last June, Hypothekarbank Lenzburg announced that it was welcoming blockchain and cryptocurrency companies to open corporate accounts with them, after the bank had held consultations with FINMA. And early this month, the financial regulator approved blockchain company Smart Valor’s application to act as financial intermediary.
As welcoming as Swiss regulators have been to the industry, some other governments, particularly that of Liechtenstein, have established themselves as crypto-friendly havens. To ensure that potential cryptocurrency investors do not go elsewhere, Zug financial director Heinz Tännler commissioned the Swiss Bankers Association last June to form a task force that would assist blockchain companies in opening and maintaining bank accounts in the country.