Puerto Rico’s latest cryptocurrency trading company, San Juan Mercantile Bank & Trust International (SJMBT), has opened for business and has just accepted its first client deposit on Monday.

The company was licensed last month by Puerto Rico’s Office of the Commission of Financial Institutions (OCIF) as an international financial entity (IFE). The bank is part of Mercantile Global Holdings (MGH), which is also the owner of the upcoming institutional-grade electronic trading platform San Juan Mercantile Exchange (SJMX).

The bank offers settlement and custody services for both crypto and fiat trading on the exchange. Although SJMBT itself is not insured by the US Federal Deposit Insurance Corp (FDIC), according to a spokesperson, it will place the deposits only in insured banks.

The bank also added that the customer digital assets would be held only with the approved digital asset custodians, although they did not reveal any of their correspondents or custodians.

MGH also elaborated on the benefits of keeping custody and trading under the same roof, such as the ability to settle trades in real time by taking customer balances on bank deposit into account when setting trading limits.

Nick Varelakis, president and chief operating officer of SJMBT, said:

“As more liquidity venues onboard with SJMX to trade digital assets, SJMBT will provide critical services, such as real-time settlement and account re-balancing, in support of our customers’ trading activities.”

MGH is led by some high profile financial players such as the former executive director of JPMorgan Chase for business architecture and transformation and the former chief operating officer of Puerto Rico’s Noble Bank.

Banking in cryptocurrency market remains a rarity, especially with government crackdowns and bureaucratic red tape acting as a deterrent due to money laundering and other perceived risks. It remains to be seen whether this latest move will be an answer to the current problem. 


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