3 Strategies Crypto Firms Can Use to Land a New Banking Partner

After the recent collapse of three crypto-friendly banks, many firms are left hunting for new banking partnerships. Brett Philbin, Rachel Millard and Rosie Gillam of Edelman Smithfield offer advice.

AccessTimeIconMar 30, 2023 at 7:13 p.m. UTC
Updated Mar 30, 2023 at 7:15 p.m. UTC
AccessTimeIconMar 30, 2023 at 7:13 p.m. UTCUpdated Mar 30, 2023 at 7:15 p.m. UTC
AccessTimeIconMar 30, 2023 at 7:13 p.m. UTCUpdated Mar 30, 2023 at 7:15 p.m. UTC

If your crypto firm is on the hunt for a new bank, you are not alone.

The recent collapse of three crypto-friendly banks has added a fresh obstacle for digital asset firms that are still grappling with the impact of crypto winter and a regulatory crackdown.

But communications can play a key role in helping you define your public image and potential risks associated with your business – factors that potential banking partners are watching closely.

Brett Philbin is an executive vice president, Rachel Millard is a senior vice president and Rosie Gillam is a senior vice president in Edelman Smithfield’s Financial Services Practice.

Below are three strategies that can aid in the banking courtship process:

Clearly articulate your focus on risk and compliance

There is high value in ensuring that the controlled elements of your business are front and center. Crypto is the least trusted of financial services subsectors, according to the 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer, which in November surveyed more than 32,000 respondents across 28 countries.

That’s a big reason why it’s critical that licenses, registrations and compliance standards are included in a prominent place on your website. Consider making them central to your “about the company” message. Highlight any compliance or financial health measures your company takes. Ensure your risk management officer or chief financial officer is featured on the website along with their bios.

This step sends the message to prospective banking partners that you have someone in-house who can interact with them in the way they’re accustomed to working. These seemingly minor changes are valuable: They highlight the measures you have taken to reduce risk within the company.

Revisit messaging on your corporate website and social channels

Assume potential banking partners will do their homework by visiting your corporate website and your corporate social channels to deepen their understanding of your business, your leadership team and recent developments that could impact whether or not they choose to partner with you.

Make certain that critical information is accessible and understandable (spend time carefully crafting your “about” page). This is especially important if you operate in a niche category within the broader crypto ecosystem.

A decentralized exchange, for example, should be explicit in explaining how it differs from a centralized exchange, to help less-adept audiences understand the nuanced differences between the two.

Beyond the website, be sure to conduct a quick refresh of your social channels. Your online presence and demeanor can play a role in the evaluation process. Use these channels to communicate updates about the company, including any recent developments that demonstrate long-term viability such as customer wins, partnerships and product launches.

On the other hand, while Crypto Twitter is awash with policy hot takes, consider whether your company is in the best position to contribute to this conversation. Banks evaluating potential partners may weigh the liability associated with a firebrand company leadership willing to tweet at any regulator without regard for the impact it could have on their image.

Engage trade associations to fight some battles

For many organizations, it’s better to skip the hot-take policy tweet and instead consider engaging with industry trade associations to carry forward those concerns and objectives.

Trade associations carry weight within Washington, D.C. They are able to take tough policy positions publicly and generate media interest in them in a way that individual companies cannot.

These organizations can also help broker productive and impactful backroom conversations with policymakers and facilitate introductions to potential partners and allies that can be helpful in driving longer-term growth strategies for your business.

Now more than ever, it’s clear the first stop on the road to mass crypto adoption is for firms to find a bank they can trust. The right communications strategy can help ensure you don’t end up having to settle for a tier-2 or tier-3 banking option. Employ these tactics to expedite your transition to a new banking partner today.

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Brett Philbin

Brett Philbin is the executive vice president at Edelman Smithfield.

Rachel Millard

Rachel Millard is the senior vice president of financial policy and public affairs at Edelman.

Rosie Gillam

Rosie Gillam is a senior vice president at Edelman Smithfield.