WertpapierhandelsBank AG (VPE) a traditional securities trader headquartered in Germany, has announced the expansion of its brokerage offerings to include cryptocurrencies for institutional investors. The BaFin-regulated bank is the first in Germany to offer this service, and asserts its compliance with "all necessary KYC (Know your Customer) and AML (Anti-Money-Laundering) requirements."
VPE has partnered with Berlin-based solarisBank, a FinTech firm, to provide automated cryptocurrency trading and access to cryptocurrency wallets hosted by the bank, which hopes to give investors fast trading services alongside high security standards.
"Until now, institutional investors have faced high entry barriers to crypto trading. Our cryptocurrency trading services offer a much more convenient alternative," said Katharina Strenski, Public Relations Manager at VPE.
VPE was established in 1989 and, according to its company profile published by Reuters, has previously focused "on exchange-based and over-the-counter trade of financial instruments for private investors, institutional traders and financial corporations."
"Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum and others have become a promising asset class in recent years," continued Strenski. "To date, trading digital tokens has been restricted to crypto exchanges and online market places. We are pleased to be the first German bank to offer our customers cryptocurrency trading services."
Though VPE may be the first German bank to move into cryptocurrency trading, the first European bank to do so was Bank Frick, in the German-speaking microstate of Liechtenstein. The tiny principality is a historic tax haven and, with a population of just 37,000, has one of the highest gross domestic products (GDPs) per person in the world.
Bank Frick announced that it would be offering trading options for five leading cryptocurrencies and secure hard wallet for storage for professional investors and financial intermediaries in February 2018.
Germany has not placed heavy restrictions on cryptocurrency as of yet and, in February, the country's president said, "Effective regulation of virtual currencies would … only be achievable through the greatest possible international cooperation."