The global division of Spanish financial institution Banco Santander – Santander Private Banking International – has reportedly launched a new feature that allows customers with Swiss accounts to participate in investing and trading in Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH).
Given Banco Santander’s more than 160-year history and its broad customer base of 166 million individuals, the private banking division, which serves 210,000 high-net-worth customers and manages approximately $315 billion in assets and deposits, has significant influence .
Therefore, the decision to allow high-net-worth clients associated with Santander Private Banking International to participate in BTC and ETH trading is noteworthy and has significant implications for the industry.
Santander’s historic move
Although Santander’s initial launch of cryptocurrency trading services is reportedly limited to BTC and ETH, the banking giant plans to expand its offerings to other cryptocurrencies once they meet the established verification criteria, according to an internal communications leak reported by Coindesk.
The report states that Santander initiated the provision of BTC and ETH trading services in response to customer inquiries through customer service representatives.
The bank intends to protect the private cryptographic keys of the tradable assets within a regulated custody framework.
John Whelan, head of crypto and digital assets at Santander, reportedly said in an email:
“Swiss regulation related to digital assets is one of the first and most progressive in the world, providing our customers with clarity and a comprehensive regulatory environment. As ownership of cryptocurrencies continues to grow as an alternative asset class, we anticipate that our customers will prefer to rely on their existing financial institutions to be responsible for their assets.”
Santander is yet to officially confirm the development.
Tryst with crypto
The latest development comes almost a year after Santander announced its intention to ban UK customers from making real-time payments on cryptocurrency exchanges, citing a commitment to protecting its customers from potential scams.
It subsequently cited a “sharp increase in UK customers falling victim to cryptocurrency scams” as the reason for the decision. The financial giant also expressed its intention to further “protect” customers by blocking any faster cryptocurrency exchange payments they identify from Santander accounts, a move expected to be implemented during 2023
However, by June 2023, the bank changed its stance and launched an educational series focused on digital assets for its customers.
What makes this change noteworthy is its alignment with the growing institutional interest in crypto assets. Many traditional institutions have joined the trend of using Bitcoin ETFs to provide their clients with indirect access to cryptocurrencies.
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