Yesterday Spanish banking group BBVA confirmed it has begun to launch trials for cryptocurrency trading and custody through BBVA Switzerland. Its Swiss subsidiary offers international private banking services, which means the service will target accredited investors. At launch in 2021 it will offer bitcoin only, with plans to introduce other digital assets later.
“Digital assets have enormous potential to transform the way value and information are exchanged through blockchain technology,” said Alicia Pertusa, Head of Client Solutions Strategy at BBVA. “Financial institutions, in collaboration with supervisors, can play a relevant role in the integration of digital assets in current markets and infrastructures.”
The announcement states that its target market is knowledgeable investors who already hold digital currencies but through startups. BBVA sees itself as offering several advantages, which include “all the guarantees of any other banking service”. Notably, it refers to bitcoin holdings as “deposits”. It will also enable clients to have a single portfolio that mixes traditional investments with digital assets.
BBVA chose Switzerland because of its regulatory stance, high adoption rates of digital assets and the array of blockchain companies in the country.
Unlike some other institutions, for now, BBVA only talks about cryptocurrencies. But it was one of the earlier and more active organizations in trialing tokenization of bond and debt issuance using blockchain.
It’s been a busy week for major institutional announcements about digital assets and cryptocurrencies. So far this week, SIX and Japan’s SBI announced a digital asset joint venture based in Singapore. Standard Chartered and Northern Trust confirmed a U.K. joint venture for cryptocurrency custody, Zodia. Today DBS Bank launched its DBS Digital Exchange for token issuance, cryptocurrency trading, and custody. The SGX stock market is an investor in the Digital Exchange.