Business 2 August 2018Ed Drake
Swissquote boosts profits by 44%, thanks to crypto market ventures
Swiss banking group Swissquote has announced a 44% increase in profits, following its decision to introduce cryptocurrency investing services.
The results, driven by the surge in Swissquote’s new cryptocurrency arm, saw the firm arrive at profits of CHF25.7 million (US$25.85 million) for the first half of the year, better than the expected CHF23.2 million (US$23.33 million) projects by market analysts.
Much of the growth can be attributed to the launch of their cryptocurrency business, although levels of demand for new accounts are not projected to continue over the remainder of the year. Nevertheless, the results prove the demand that exists in the cryptocurrency sector, and the potential upsides for banks and financial companies willing to broaden their horizons.
The figures come at a time when most banks in Switzerland still refuse to work with cryptocurrency businesses, and can be seen as a vote of confidence in the sector.
Swissquote was widely recognised as one of the first online banks in Europe to offer cryptocurrency services to clients, after introducing support for Bitcoin Cash (BCH), along with ETH, LTC and XRP, in December 2017.
Several other financial companies in Switzerland have since followed suit, including Bitcoin Suisse AG and Falcon. A further announcement in July from stock exchange SIX Swiss Exchange announced the firm was developing a trading and settlement platform for digital assets like cryptocurrency.
However, many legacy banks and institutions in the country are still reluctant to offer services in or to the cryptocurrency sector, which some see as undermining Switzerland’s place as a European centre for cryptocurrency businesses, under heavy competition from the likes of Malta and Gibraltar.
Swiss authorities are now reported to be considering ways of opening access to mainstream banking services for cryptocurrency businesses, in a bid to address this problem. To that end, results like those from Swissquote will serve as encouragement to legacy institutions to become more receptive to the cryptocurrency sector in future.
For the time being, some cryptocurrency businesses in Zug are turning to neighbouring Lichtenstein for banking services. It remains to be seen whether results like those posted by Swissquote can do anything to change the domestic landscape for cryptocurrency businesses in Switzerland.
Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as BTC coins; tokens on the Bitcoin Cash ABC chain are referenced as BCH, BCH-ABC or BAB coins.
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