Santander Private Banking International, a division of Banco Santander, is offering cryptocurrency trading and investment services to high-net-worth clients with Swiss accounts.
Santander is extending its digital asset services beyond Switzerland, registering as a crypto custodian with the French regulator.

Santander Private Banking International, a division of Banco Santander, the Spanish financial services giant, is extending cryptocurrency trading and investment services to high-net-worth clients with Swiss accounts.

Initially, the bank is offering trading facilities for the top two cryptocurrencies – Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH). Later, Santander plans to introduce additional digital assets meeting the bank’s screening criteria over the coming months. The service is exclusively available upon client request through relationship managers, and the assets are secured through a regulated custody model. Additionally, the bank stores private cryptographic keys in a secure environment.

This move stands out in contrast to the typical approach of many large banks, which often focus on tokenization and tend to avoid direct exposure to open-access blockchains and cryptocurrencies. Banco Santander, with a history spanning over 160 years and 166 million customers, serves 210,000 affluent clients, managing assets and deposits totaling approximately $315 billion. Speaking on the development, John Whelan, head of crypto and digital assets at Santander, said:

“The Swiss regulation related to digital assets is one of the first and most advanced in the world, since it provides clarity and a comprehensive regulatory environment for our clients. As holding of crypto as an alternative asset class continues to expand, we expect that our clients prefer to rely on their existing financial institutions to be responsible for their assets.”

More Banks Keen On Offering Crypto Services

Santander has fortified its presence in the digital asset arena by registering as a crypto custodian with the French regulator, complementing its Swiss operations. This strategic move underscores the bank’s commitment to adopting modern technologies while adhering to regulatory standards.

In parallel developments, Commerzbank in Germany has secured a crypto custody license, enabling it to protect digital assets and explore innovative services in line with technological advancements. Jörg Oliveri del Castillo-Schulz, COO of Commerzbank, stressed the significance of integrating cutting-edge technologies within regulatory frameworks.

Santander’s foray into digital asset trading is likely to benefit from Switzerland’s robust regulatory environment, overseen by FINMA. The increasing involvement of traditional financial institutions in digital asset trading reflects a growing acceptance of cryptocurrencies within mainstream financial services.

A little more than a year ago, Santander disclosed its intentions to restrict UK customers from making real-time payments to cryptocurrency exchanges, citing a priority to shield customers from cryptocurrency scams. However, by June 2023, the bank altered its stance and initiated an educational series for its customers focusing on digital assets.

Interestingly, this shift in approach aligns with a surge in institutional interest in cryptocurrency assets. The banking participation grows within the crypto space as blockchain startups like Ripple make early moves in the world of tokenization challenging giants like JPMorgan.

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