Switzerland’s SEBA Bank Snags First FINMA License for Liquid Crypto Funds

Easy in, easy out. SEBA Bank CEO Guido Buehler thinks the license will attract more investment.

Sep 29, 2021 at 4:00 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 29, 2021 at 1:43 p.m. UTC

SEBA Bank has been given permission by regulators to offer digital assets to Swiss-domiciled mutual funds, the first such license to be granted in Switzerland, according to the cryptocurrency-focused financial services firm.

Announced Wednesday, the license granted to SEBA by the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) allows the firm to act as a custodian bank, and constitutes a new enabler of liquid investment funds with crypto, said SEBA Bank CEO Guido Buehler. Typically, crypto funds use alternative structures that come with a lock-in and costs for clients to get in or out.

“This collective investment scheme license allows institutional clients, and then later retail clients, to invest into crypto assets on a liquid basis through fund structures,” Buehler told CoinDesk in an interview, adding:

”It means there is now the opportunity for institutions to establish their fund structures for crypto as a liquid asset, so people can subscribe today and can sell tomorrow.”

Global context

Cryptocurrency markets across the world may be depressed due to oncoming U.S. regulation or China’s latest crackdown, but Switzerland, with its regulatory clarity, seems to march to the beat of its own drum.

In terms of how asset managers will respond, Buehler estimates crypto should make up around the same tranche size in portfolios as gold going into 2022 – around 3%.

In order to get this license, SEBA had to work with an asset manager, in this case, Switzerland’s Crypto Broker, part of Crypto Finance AG. On the custody side of things, SEBA is developing its own cold storage vault with the help of custody tech partners Fireblocks (which recently opened an office in Switzerland) and Switzerland-based Taurus.

“Institutional adoption is only at the beginning since a lot of institutional capabilities are still lagging the market demand,” Buehler said.

DISCLOSURE

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Ian Allison is a senior reporter at CoinDesk.