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Swiss Banks Embrace Cryptocurrencies

19 June 2024 | Legal Alerts
Over a quarter of Swiss banks now offer their clients access to cryptocurrency investments, or plan to launch such services. This trend persists despite widespread uncertainty about this type of investment.
According to a recent report by Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts (HSLU), most banks are turning to external providers for the technical support needed to offer these services. With the price of cryptocurrencies experiencing significant gains in recent months, an increasing number of banks serving private customers are eager to participate in this market. The HSLU study indicates that 28% of banks in Switzerland currently allow their clients invest in cryptocurrencies or plan to introduce such options soon.
Swiss Banks Embrace Cryptocurrencies
Government-supported banks are particularly keen to integrate cryptocurrency services into their portfolios. The cantonal banks of Zug, St Gallen, and Lucerne, along with Postfinance—the financial division of the Swiss Post Office—have recently introduced their cryptocurrency offerings. Swissquote, an online bank, and Valiant, a regional bank, have been actively attracting cryptocurrency clients for a while now. Additionally, four other institutions are preparing to set up similar services soon.
Banks seem to see potential in crypto investments.
Felix Buschor, the author of the study
Limited Offerings in Banking Sector
The interest now extends beyond affluent customers to include the broader public. Banks are considered more reliable than cryptocurrency exchanges and can offer additional banking services.
Even so, the variety of available cryptocurrency products is still narrow. Typically, banks provide only trading and custody services for major cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum. Direct transfers of these currencies or 'staking' services are generally unavailable from retail banks. Following the research, developing a crypto service is costly, and the technological challenges are significant. Institutions often opt to use third-party providers as it is faster than establishing internal procedures, Buschor explains.
Swiss Banks Embrace Cryptocurrencies
Risky Investment

Some institutions surveyed were ready to make significant investments in developing expertise, systems, and processes related to blockchain technology, convinced that it will play a pivotal role in the future of banking. Despite this, the study also reveals that skepticism remains prevalent in the banking sector regarding cryptocurrencies: approximately two-thirds of the banks surveyed neither offer cryptocurrency services nor plan to introduce them. This reluctance is attributed to the speculative nature of cryptocurrency investments and the associated legal and regulatory risks.

  1. https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/banking-fintech/swiss-banks-shed-fear-of-bitcoin/78903160
  2. https://www.hslu.ch/en/lucerne-university-of-applied-sciences-and-arts/about-us/people-finder/profile/


This legal alert provides a general overview of the topic and should not be considered legal advice. Legal situations may vary, and businesses should consult with legal professionals to address their specific concerns.
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