CORRECTION (Nov. 20, 10:02 UTC): Corrects headline and story to say service is available for clients with accounts in Switzerland. An earlier version said the service was for Swiss clients.
Over the next several months, Santander will offer additional cryptocurrencies that meet the bank’s screening criteria, the announcement said.
Santander said the service is provided only upon client request through relationship managers, and the assets are held in a regulated custody model in which the bank stores the private cryptographic keys in a secure environment.
This is a bold move, given that most big banks prefer to be twiddling around with tokenization and tend to avoid exposure to open-access blockchains and the cryptocurrencies that run on them.
Banco Santander is more than 160 years old and has 166 million customers. The private bank caters to 210,000 wealthy clients, with assets and deposits accounting for about $315 billion.
“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,” said John Whelan, head of crypto and digital assets at Santander, in an email. “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.”
The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, institutional digital assets exchange. Bullish group is majority owned by Block.one; both groups have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary, and an editorial committee, chaired by a former editor-in-chief of The Wall Street Journal, is being formed to support journalistic integrity.