A Swiss startup has raised CHF 100 million (USD 103 million) to build a bank which could revolutionize banking in the country by offering both crypto and fiat banking services to serve two financial communities.
The startup SEBA Crypto AG wants to create an environment where both traditional banking services and cryptocurrency users can be catered for; as yet an untried concept in crypto-friendly Switzerland.
Other banks are moving in this direction though and despite Swiss banks’ reticence to fully embrace cryptocurrency, the sector has seen a flurry of fresh activity this year. First with startup Smart Valor winning approval to operate in the country’s buoyant financial market earlier this year. Smart Valor was founded in 2017 by Feldmeier in an attempt to disrupt Switzerland’s banking system after jumping from China-based Bitcoin wallet Xapo.
Also, in June, Hypothekarbank Lenzburg became the first Swiss bank in the alpine country to provide business accounts to blockchain and cryptocurrency companies. Although another financial institution, Zurich’s Falcon Private Bank, had offered crypto asset management services to its clients since last year, Hypothekarbank became the first to open a company in the fintech sphere.
SEBA Crypto AG is breaking new ground once again with the intended dual-purpose bank, headed by former UBS managers Guido Buehler as chief executive and Andreas Amschwand as chairman. The bank, if approved, will provide a range of services to both financial sectors, offering corporate financing, advice on ICOs, and general traditional and crypto banking services. SEBA’s CEO sees the concept as one which has the capacity to bring the two banking communities closer together, suggesting:
“SEBA wants to bridge the gap between traditional banking and the new world of crypto… With safety, transparency and performance as core values, our ambition is to become a market leader in the convergence of traditional finance with the crypto economy.”
More than in most countries, Switzerland, with its crypto nucleus in the tiny town of Zug, has thrown itself into blockchain sector, encouraging huge growth in the industry on the domestic front and from overseas. Generally, the banking sector is still playing a wait-and-see approach when it comes to allowing cryptocurrency near its treasured system.
However, events this year have illustrated how much this is slowly changing, with regulation also beginning to reflect the Swiss government’s trust in cryptocurrencies. SEBA’s chairman explained:
“In Switzerland, we have commitment from various authorities to establish a comprehensive regulatory environment for the development of blockchain technology and the sustainable, stable growth of crypto assets… This makes Switzerland the ideal place to launch a new financial services paradigm.”
Investors include Swiss-based BlackRiver Asset Management and Hong Kong-based Summer Capital, among other backers from Switzerland, Singapore, Malaysia, China, and Hong Kong, with a plan to widen its services if approved in 2019. Its first branch is planned for Zurich, the main hub of Switzerland’s financial activity.
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