For the first time, Switzerland’s independent financial markets regulator, FINMA, has issued banking licenses to two blockchain service providers – SEBA Crypto AG registered in Zug and Sygnum AG registered in Zurich – who will provide bridging services between traditional and digital assets for institutional and professional customers.
— Eidgenössische Finanzmarktaufsicht FINMA (@FINMA_media) August 26, 2019
Both licenses have been granted on a conditional basis and will come into effect once all secondary criteria conditions are met, which is expected to be less than two months away.
Institutional Blockchain Banking
FINMA, founded in 2009, is independent of Switzerland’s political authorities and although subject to parliamentary scrutiny, neither the Swiss Parliament nor the Government can issue directives on how the association fulfils its regulatory duties.
Within the ranks of both of the newly authorised blockchain-based banks are personnel drawn from conventional banking and investment houses as well technology and legal personnel.
Last month, Finews reported that SEBA had won one of the oldest and largest Swiss banking institutions, Julius Baer, as a partner while Sygnum counted former Swiss National Bank head and current Vice Chairman of BlackRock Philipp Hildebrand and ex-UBS CEO Peter Wuffli amongst its supporters.
Both projects’ development have been swift ,and in a press release SEBA states that its team, led by CEO Guido Bühler, who is another ex-UBS employee, “…has successfully built a licensed and supervised bank within 17 months.”
Speaking on the progress made, SEBA’s Chairman and Non-Executive Director at Julius Baer, Andreas Amschwand, said the FINMA banking licence “…is not only a milestone for SEBA, it sets a new standard for banking in the Blockchain and digital asset economy. The moment has significance far beyond the Swiss financial industry.”
Meanwhile, Manuel Krieger, Sygnum’s Co-founder and CEO, stated to Fintechnews that “Being awarded the banking and securities dealer licence from FINMA is a significant milestone, and an important step towrads the institutionalisation of the digital asset economy.”