Deposits from digital currency customers now make up nearly 16% of total deposits at New York’s Signature Bank.
In an earnings call Thursday, Signature revealed that deposits from customers in the crypto industry now total $10 billion – twice that of California rival Silvergate Bank.
“We’ve clearly become the preeminent player in that space,” said Eric Howell, the company’s executive vice president of corporate and business development. “It’s obvious that digital assets and cryptocurrencies are not going away.”
Signature Bank CEO Joseph DePaolo added that the bank’s blockchain-based payments platform Signet is the main driver of deposit growth in digital asset banking, and that institutional adoption is causing the vertical to “grow by leaps and bounds.” Prominent customers include Voyager Digital Holdings, Polychain Capital and bitFlyer USA.
Signature banks the “top five crypto exchanges,” DePaolo said, and is now offering retail banking services through them. (Silvergate is known to serve Coinbase, Kraken and Bitstamp. Exchanges often have more than one banking partner in order to more quickly onboard new customers.)
Signature added $2.5 billion in non-interest-bearing deposits in the fourth quarter of 2020, which fell half a billion shy of Silvergate’s $2.9 billion in new deposits from digital currency customers in Q4.
Crypto firms are often a rich source of low-cost deposits for the few banks that openly serve the sector. As such, analysts have paid close attention to non-interest-bearing deposit growth at Signature, especially since the bank doesn’t break out deposits from crypto customers in its financial statements.
Signature sees itself as a bank for high-net-worth individuals and institutions; its crypto banking business has a low profile.
These deposits are not equal to the deposits from crypto firms at the bank, since Signature has many other lines of business. In total, non-interest-bearing deposits represent nearly 30% of total deposits at the bank.
Total deposits increased at the bank quarter over quarter by $8.98 billion, with money-market deposits representing the lion’s share.
Signature’s average cost of deposits and average cost of funds for the fourth quarter of 2020 decreased by 66 and 69 basis points to 0.42% and 0.57%, respectively.