Competition for businesses and retail clients interested in the crypto economy is slowly heating up in Europe after the first Swiss bank announced that it has introduced direct transfers of cryptocurrencies for both the retail and institutional market.
According to an update from Swiss-based Falcon Private Bank, the company lets its clients to make transfers in Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ether, and Litecoin to and from their own “segregated Falcon wallets,” as well as converting these cryptocurrencies into fiat currencies.
Digital assets are integrated into account statements, and orders to buy or sell cryptocurrencies can be placed from within the online banking solution, according to the bank. This makes digital assets “fully bankable,” they added.
Falcon Private Bank, which was founded in 1965 as Ueberseebank and is currently owned by the sovereign wealth fund of Abu Dhabi, also provides its clients with storage of cryptocurrencies using a proprietary custody solution, according to a product fact sheet published on its website.
“Falcon has once more seized the opportunity to demonstrate its expertise as a market leader in the digital assets space by merging traditional private banking services with innovative financial solutions,” the bank’s CEO Martin Keller said in a media statement.
In 2017, Falcon Private Bank had CHF 1.735bn (USD 1.74bn) in assets and was the 96th largest bank in Switzerland, according to TheBanks.eu, a website that covers banking services in Europe. In 2017 the bank's annual loss was CHF 28.40m. The bank had 278 employees in 2017.
In the past, several other banks have introduced similar offerings as Falcon, with Liechtenstein-based Union Bank and Bank Frick being prime examples.
In early 2018, Cryptonews.com reported that Bank Frick became Liechtenstein’s first bank to add cryptocurrency trading to its product portfolio. However, the bank does not serve retail clients, and the new offering was therefore exclusively aimed at the institutional sector.
Union Bank, on its end, took a different approach to the crypto industry when they in August of last year announced their intent to become the first fully regulated bank to issue their own security token, as well as a fiat-backed stablecoin, Union Bank payment coin.
As of January 2019, Bank Frick appears to have taken the lead among the two, with an entire suite of “Blockchain Banking” solutions being available via its website. Union Bank, however, has not updated the blockchain section of its website since publishing the original announcement 6 months ago.
Meanwhile, as reported in September 2018, Swiss startup SEBA Crypto raised USD 103m to build a bankoffering cryptocurrency services to companies and investors.