In July 2017, Falcon Private Bank said it had become the first Swiss private bank to offer bitcoin asset management, enabling clients to trade and store BTC. The International Business Times lauded the advance for cryptocurrency but maintained that digital wallets were still better. It looks like Falcon was listening: The bank announced on January 21 that it now offers direct transfer of select cryptocurrencies to and from segregated Falcon wallets.
Falcon claims to be the "First Swiss Bank to introduce direct crypto transfers." The wallet offered by Falcon is available to both private and institutional clients and can store bitcoin, bitcoin cash, Ether, and Litecoin. These cryptocurrencies can also be converted into fiat. Falcon says its offering makes blockchain assets "fully bankable," reporting: "[C]lients can place trading orders conveniently through e-banking or a dedicated relationship manager. Digital assets are included in portfolio statements as well as in tax reporting documents."
Falcon says it has also created a process to ensure compliance with anti-money laundering (AML) and know-your-customer (KYC) regulations.
Falcon is not the only Swiss bank interested in crypto asset management: Vontobel bank, the third-largest financial custody provider in Switzerland, just launched Digital Asset Vault, its new digital assets custodian solution, in mid-January. And last month, Gazprombank (Switzerland), a Swiss subsidiary of the Russian state-owned bank Gazprombank (JSC), announced its plans to develop cryptocurrency-linked bank services in 2019 for institutional clients, financial institutions, and "other corporate participants of the crypto-ecosystem."
Traditional banks have been slow to offer wallets and crypto-related services. In February 2018, hopes were high that the Dutch financial service provider Rabobank would launch a cryptocurrency wallet tied to bank accounts. At the time, Rabobank had not made a firm decision to do so but was testing its "Rabobit" wallet to investigate both the risks associated with cryptocurrency and the demand for crypto-related services. Rabobank has made no comment on Rabobit since the initial announcement, and the Rabobit website is now defunct.
It looks like Switzerland is ahead of the curve when it comes to crypto banking. Cryptocurrency users disappointed by Rabobank might look to Falcon and hope that its wallet will prove to be a veritable "Swiss bank" of the cryptosphere.