Switzerland’s financial markets regulator has approved the first Swiss private bank for bitcoin asset management, potentially paving the way for other global banks to offer digital currency products.
Zurich-based Falcon Private Bank announced that the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority, or FINMA, gave the bank the green light on managing assets based on the blockchain technology behind bitcoin and other digital currencies.
“Falcon Group is the first Swiss private bank to provide blockchain asset management solutions for its clients through the new cooperation with Bitcoin Suisse AG. Clients can exchange and hold Bitcoins via Falcon using their cash holdings. Our solution facilitates easy access to blockchain assets and a convenient storage process.”, according to the press release.
Additionally, a Bitcoin ATM has been installed in the lobby of Falcon Private Bank’s headquarters in Zurich and is accessible for the public during business hours. After an indepth enquiry, FINMA has given its approval for the launch of this unique new product.
Arthur Vayloyan, Global Head Products & Services, Falcon Private Bank Ltd.: “Following our strategic partnership with Move Digital, a best-in-class provider of digital asset management and investment advisory systems, this is a further tangible element of our new strategy. We are proud to be the first-mover in the Swiss private banking area to provide blockchain asset management for our clients. Falcon is convinced that the time is right to enter this nascent market and it is our firm belief that this new product will fulfil our clients’ future needs.”
“It has been a pleasure assisting Falcon in realising this new product, which is nothing less than a historic milestone for the entire crypto space,” says Niklas Nikolajsen, CEO, Bitcoin Suisse AG.
“People here are thinking this is beyond bitcoin. This is a new chapter in how we exchange money. As a financial services partner, I think we have to become part of that strategy,” Arthur Vayloyan, global head of products and services at Falcon, told CNBC in a phone interview.
He said the company began officially discussing bitcoin asset management in January, applied for regulator approval on June 23 and received it Tuesday. Falcon has 14.6 billion Swiss francs ($15.13 billion) in client assets and has offices in Zurich, Abu Dhabi, Dubai and London.
Falcon will access bitcoin through Swiss-based digital currency broker Bitcoin Suisse.
The CEO of Bitcoin Suisse, Niklas Nikolajsen, told CNBC in a phone interview that contrary to many expectations, the Swiss regulator was more concerned about consumer protection than bitcoin’s potential use for illegal activities.
“I would assume it would not be long before the rest of the banking sector will follow suit,” Nikolajsen said. “The genie is out of the bottle and crypto assets bring a value proposition that you can’t ignore.”
The Bank of England declined to comment. In the U.S., the Federal Reserve, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency declined to comment.
Switzerland is known for being a global leader in banking practices. The country is also one of the friendliest to digital currency enthusiasts. Its Zug region has already been dubbed “Crypto Valley” for the number of digital currency businesses located there.
Swiss firm MME was the legal advisor and PricewaterhouseCoopers was the auditor in the approval process.
Falcon Private Bank is a Swiss private banking boutique with 50 years of expertise in wealth management. The bank provides firstclass financial services to private clients and wealthy families from its headquarters in Zurich and their locations in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, London and Luxembourg.