Initially, everyone is reluctant to accept cryptocurrencies, more and more large international banks have finally decided to embark on this field.
Faced with the emergence of cryptocurrencies and the interest of individuals and more recently of investors, the big banks are seeking to make their mark in this area.
In this area, US banks have a clear advantage, as the cryptocurrency ecosystem in the US continues to be more developed and mature than the European ecosystem. For example, according to the American giant Fidelity, about 80 million Americans own or have owned investments in digital currencies.
This Thursday, the famous American bank Goldman Sachs became the first bank to offer a secured loan in Bitcoin, which allows 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 at Galaxy Digital, a crypto-focused asset manager.
But Goldman Sachs is not the only US bank running on this trend. Some also want to allow their clients to diversify their portfolios by exposing them to cryptocurrencies. In the past year, giants Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan Chase and Well Fargo have given their wealthy customers the opportunity to gain exposure to these assets.
Similarly, US banks, faced with the rise in cryptocurrency trading platforms, and especially giants like Robinhood and Revolut, have decided to improve their trading services. Since March 2021, for example, Golman Sachs has been offering bitcoin futures and non-deliverable futures, which allow customers to comment on the future price of Bitcoin. 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 discreet initiatives
In Europe, initiatives remain more discreet at a time when European institutions are considering regulating the cryptocurrency sector. At present, it seems that Germany has a head start. At the end of February, Germany’s second largest bank, Commerzbank, applied for a license from the German supervisory authority, which would allow it to offer cryptocurrency exchange and custody services. If it were to obtain such a license, it would become the first major German bank to embark on the adventure. 25 German banking institutions would so far try to obtain such a grail.
For its part, the largest German bank, Deutsche Bank, is preparing to launch a cryptocurrency depository service. The announcement came over a year ago. Contacted by BFM Crypto, Deutsche Bank does not wish 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 big banks remain cautious about cryptocurrencies. If BNP Paribas or Société Générale enter into partnerships in blockchain and cryptocurrencies, everyone will remain on their guard. Banque Delubac & Cie became the first French bank to obtain registration as a digital asset provider (PSAN) with AMF at the end of March. While the bank had announced that its offer would be available in late April, it appears to be taking a slight delay.
“We’re going to launch the offer very soon, it’s a very flexible environment that’s evolving very fast. We’ve planned more launches over the next few months with services that will expand as we go, “explains BFM Crypto Edodie Trevillot, the bank’s compliance manager.
The bank is expected to officially launch its services in mid-May, including its offer to buy and sell cryptocurrency and depository. It will then consider developing its online banking platform with a product range of broader tokens. The bank ensures that the offer will apply to all customers from private 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. Axa Switzerland, for its part, accepts the 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 investment offer in cryptocurrencies over the next three years,” said a recent EY- report.
It is clear that banks are entering into cryptocurrencies, and although cryptocurrencies are of more and more interest to individuals and investors, the services are limited to professional and wealthy clients.