Although Bitcoin has led the cryptocurrency field in gaining prominence and popularity over the past few years, the top digital currency in the world has yet to make significant inroads into the existing financial system. Now, Switzerland's financial markets regulator may have just opened the doors for Bitcoin to become a fixture of private banks. Falcon Private Bank will officially become the first Swiss private bank to gain approval for Bitcoin asset management, and analysts speculate that it might inspire other banks around the world to climb onboard as well.
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Falcon Gets Green Light
Falcon, the Zürich-based private bank, announced this week that the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority, known as FINMA, had granted it approval to manage assets that are based on the blockchain technology which supports Bitcoin, according to a report by CNBC. Arhur Vayloyan, the global head of products and services for Falcon, explained in an interview that "people here are thinking this is beyond Bitcoin. This is a new chapter in how we exchange money. As a financial services partner, I think we have to become part of that strategy."
According to reports, Falcon began official discussions of Bitcoin asset management in January of this year, while the cryptocurrency was beginning a string of several new record high price levels. The bank applied for regulator approval on June 23rd of this year and received it on July 11th. Falcon is a major private bank, operating with about $15.1 billion in client assets and with offices across Europe and the Middle East.
Bitcoin Suisse to Be a Key Player
Falcon will access Bitcoin through the Swiss digital currency broker called Bitcoin Suisse. The CEO of this broker, Niklas Nikolajsen, explained that the Swiss regulator was actually more concerned with consumer protection than it was with the potential for Bitcoin to be used to fund illegal activities. "I would assume it would not be long before the rest of the banking sector will follow suit," he explained. "The genie is out of the bottle and crypto assets bring a value proposition that you can't ignore."
Given Switzerland's traditional status as a global leader among nations for its banking practices, it seems increasingly likely that other private banks will adopt Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies for their asset management services as well. Nonetheless, Switzerland has also proven to be one of the most accommodating and welcoming to digital currency fans.
Falcon has reportedly installed a Bitcoin ATM in the lobby of its Zürich headquarter which will allow clients to withdraw Bitcoin to their phones. For the time being, Falcon's minimum client investment remains at 2 million Swiss francs, meaning that the large majority of Swiss citizens are not able to be a part of the Bitcoin management craze through the bank.