Last week, BBVA Switzerland launched New Gen, a digital investment account for stocks and cryptocurrencies. Most banks that have entered the crypto space tend to cater to high net worth individuals (HNWI) or accredited investors. But the New Gen account has a relatively low threshold, requiring the Swiss Franc or Euro equivalent of a $10,000 deposit and no specific net worth requirements. And it’s available to investors in most countries around the world, except for the United States.
BBVA is trying to enable clients to hold stocks, crypto and cash through one account, in a similar way to Fidelity in the U.S. It’s also borrowing from startup eToro’s playbook. eToro started as a social investing platform where people could follow the stock picks of others. Similarly, the New Gen account allows investors to mimic the portfolios of famous investors, including Cathie Wood or Warren Buffet, or choose from investment themes such as climate change.
After announcing plans to offer cryptocurrency to investors at the end of last year, BBVA launched the service for its private banking customers in June, initially with Bitcoin. The New Gen account lowers the barriers to entry even further.
The approach contrasts with most other large institutions where client access is restricted. Some Swiss banks, such as Julius Baer, have been early cryptocurrency adopters, but they target wealthy clients. Several bulge-bracket U.S. banks have enabled their wealthy clients to invest indirectly via cryptocurrency funds, but they haven’t enabled access to everyday investors. In Singapore, DBS Bank launched the DBS Exchange, but only to institutional and accredited investors.
However, more mainstream access to digital assets via banks is on the cards. Asset manager NYDIG collaborated with banking technology provider Fiserv to enable banks to integrate cryptocurrency for clients. In NYDIG’s case, the cryptocurrency is limited to Bitcoin. NYDIG’s Bitcoin funds are being offered to the wealthy clients of Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan and Wells Fargo.