The Swiss arm of one of Russia’s largest banks yesterday announced that it would offer crypto custodian and Bitcoin exchange services to the businesses and institutions it counts as customers. The Swiss subsidiary of Gazprombank, Russia’s third-largest bank, has received authorization from the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) to offer “the safe custody of cryptocurrencies as well as trading between crypto and fiat currencies to its corporate and institutional clients.”
It’s effective immediately, but only for “a limited number of selected clients,” chosen through “a stringent evaluation process.” And just Bitcoin for now. “We expect digital assets to become increasingly important in the global economy and, in particular, for our current and potential clientele,” said CEO Roman Abdulin in a statement. Gazprombank said that the advantage to clients is cryptocurrency liquidity, reduction of counterparty risk (FINRA regulated bank beats crickethead99 on LocalBitcoins.com), and security.
“As a FINMA regulated financial institution, we are confident that we can add value by providing an increased level of trust to participants, both in terms of institutional-grade custody as well as between transactional partners,” said Abdulin. Gazprombank’s one-time parent company was Gazprom, a Saint Petersburg-headquartered energy firm that’s partly owned by the Russian state. Cryptocurrency regulation is far more stringent back in the motherland, where cryptocurrencies are legal to own, but illegal to use for payments. Oh, and LocalBitcoins.com is blocked.