Bitcoin Suisse Crypto Startup in Switzerland Bids For Swiss Banking Licence
Crypto finance firm Bitcoin Suisse announced today that it has applied for a banking license. Bitcoin Suisse has applied for a license from the financial supervisor and is also seeking authorization to trade securities.
In a press statement, Bitcoin Suisse AG announced that it has submitted an application to the Finma (Swiss Financial Markets Supervision Authority) for a Swiss banking license according to the Swiss Banking Act Art. 1a, combined with an application for a securities dealer license, regulated under the Stock Exchange and Securities Trading Act (SESTA).
These licenses would allow Bitcoin Suisse to further expand its offering with regulated services and products, thereby strengthening its position as a key provider of crypto financial services. Bitcoin Suisse is adapting to a changing regulatory landscape, where more and more crypto assets and services fall under securities and banking law.
Bitcoin Suisse joins two other crypto-based firms, SEBA, and Sygnum in bidding for a banking license from FINMA. The three firms are focusing on the crypto-assets market, although the authorization they are seeking is no different from any other banking or securities dealer license.
The company’s head of risk management who is coordinating the license application, David Riegelnig, said the application was to help the company adapt to the rapidly changing regulatory landscape in Switzerland and enhance the company’s market. He explained:
“A securities dealer license would enable us to trade crypto tokens that have been classified as securities by the financial regulator. This would include our own crypto franc product. And we anticipate more securitized digital assets arriving in the marketplace.”
The manager indicated that a banking license would open the door to Bitcoin Suisse to offer structured products and derivatives such as swaps. It would also consider offering corporate banking services for blockchain start-ups, but says it would be selective in choosing firms.
In readiness for the license, Bitcoin Suisse has placed 45 million Swiss Franc ($45.7 million) that will soon be extended to 55 million Swiss Franc with an anonymous Swiss bank, as collateral for a default bank guarantee, securing client fiat deposits and pooled crypto deposits.
FINMA Yet To Respond
FINMA has remained tight-lipped about when – and indeed if – it will grant such licenses. Some observers believe the financial supervisor will announce several license awards together to avoid giving anyone company a competitive advantage.
Although Bitcoin Suisse is several months behind the applications of other budding banks that are starting from scratch, the company believes its six-year track record of business growth will stand it in good stead.
Riegelnig said that the firm already has working anti-money laundering control and has demonstrated prudent balance sheet management, which he believes will assist the firm to acquire the license.
Cointelegraph reports that earlier this year, Bitcoin Suisse published financial results for the first time, reporting revenues of 44m Swiss Franc ($44.4m), a net income of 25m Swiss Francand total equity of 50m Swiss Franc for 2018. The equity of Bitcoin Suisse is projected to further grow in 2019.
Currently, the Zug-based company has 95 employees based in Switzerland, Denmark, and Liechtenstein. It plans to apply for a Liechtenstein banking license in the future, having opened a branch there last year.
Will Bitcoin Suisse become the first crypto-based company to acquire a banking license in Switzerland? Let us know in the comments section.