Crypto Banking Firm BCB Prepares U.S. Dollar Payments to Plug Silvergate Gap

BCB Group CEO Oliver von Landsberg-Sadie said he hopes to have dollar fiat-to-crypto rails in place and ready to go live early in the second quarter.

AccessTimeIconMar 6, 2023 at 9:46 a.m. UTC
Updated May 9, 2023 at 4:09 a.m. UTC

BCB Group, a payments processor that links crypto companies to the banking system, is accelerating plans to add U.S. dollar capabilities to help fill the hole left by the recently shuttered Silvergate Exchange Network, or SEN, CEO Oliver von Landsberg-Sadie said in an interview with CoinDesk.

London-based BCB, which was the first crypto company to receive a payments license from U.K. regulator the Financial Conduct Authority, provides fiat-to-crypto rails for currencies, including sterling, euros, Swiss francs and yen in Europe, particularly to institutional players such as crypto exchanges Bitstamp, Gemini and Kraken and financial-services firm Galaxy Digital.

Banking has been a dicey issue for crypto companies, many of which see the reinvention of traditional finance as their ultimate goal. Recent collapses and scandals have prompted a scattergun response from regulators in the U.S., and what could be viewed as a kind of choke point operation on crypto banking, at least as far as Silvergate Capital (SI) is concerned.

BCB launched its instant settlement network, the BCB Liquidity Interchange Network Consortium, or BLINC, in mid-2020. That's a real-time settlement system that does for euros, British pounds and Swiss francs what SEN did in the U.S. until recently for big crypto clients transacting in dollars.

New York-based Signature Bank’s (SBNY) Signet, an equivalent to SEN, has to date been the next largest network for USD instant settlement and stands to fill some of the demand. That said, a BLINC dollar component has been in the works for about a year and is getting ready to launch, Landsberg-Sadie said.

“Obviously, I’m going to try and bring that forward as quickly as possible,” he said in reference to news that Silvergate’s network is no longer running. “I’d like to say it could be live by spring, so we’ll do whatever it takes to make sure those who are stranded by SEN get some sort of continuity given the huge overlap of BCB and Silvergate clients.”

Unlike SEN, BLINC is multicurrency and isn’t tied to a single credit institution, such as Silvergate or Signature Bank, Landsberg-Sadie said. It wasn't designed to take deposits, he added. Rather, it was built as a payment institution to provide on-ramps to banks in places like the U.K., Switzerland and Europe.

“It’s a decentralized model,” said Landsberg-Sadie. “What you have with Silvergate and Signature is a credit institution solution applied to what is primarily a payments problem. Silvergate’s troubles started when they allowed long-term bitcoin bets against short-term cash deposits, an impossible position to unwind in 2022’s crazy markets. BLINC funds are 1:1, unleveraged, un-rehypothecated, always precisely 1:1 with safeguarded funds.”


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Ian Allison

Ian Allison is an award-winning senior reporter at CoinDesk. He holds ETH.