Sep 6, 2023

SEBA, a crypto bank based in Switzerland, said it won approval-in-principle (AIP) from Hong Kong's Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) for its regional subsidiary as it looks to extend its international presence.

Video transcript

The state of crypto is presented by Tron connecting the world to the power of Cryptocurrency. Welcome back to first mover. A crypto bank says it won approval in principle from Hong Kong Securities Regulator for its regional subsidiary as it looks to extend its international presence. Joining us now to discuss is the CEO of Siba Banks A PAC division Amy. You welcome to the show, Amy. Hi. Thank you. Good to be here. It's great to have you here. Um Talk to us about why you're expanding into Hong Kong. I mean um I don't know if this uh this is an introduction considering we've all probably been in space for so long. Um But I think uh first of all, when you're looking at regional regions around the world where you want to have that footprint, right? A P A is an obvious um obvious contender for this, particularly in crypto, particularly for a business like which um you know, from our headquarters, our services uh you know, are include not only banking but also um the full range of trading and capital markets, um access products. So Hong Kong, I think has a very special place um in, in the A PAC uh region for capital markets, particularly um it trading in markets, DNA um and talent pool are very attractive here. And of course, this gels with some of those like largest business articles. Um Hong Kong is a great business environment, fast paced competitive. Um but at the time, it's always historically been um you know, home to a very deep capital markets, uh capital markets. And not to mention, of course, Hong Kong uh has a special place in crypto being the breeding ground for some of the absolute most dominant crypto companies in history. Um Of course, for us, timing uh is very important we when, when we're working in an industry changing so fast, uh especially on the regulatory front. So, you know, we want to be building in jurisdictions that are equally as excited about the potential of this industry as we are. Um with the Hong Kong government's, you know, big push end of 2022. Uh This was, you know, a great time to really join this momentum and make our footprint here in our, in our a a expansion. So, uh of course, yeah, breaking down uh Seba banks uh uh uh revenue stream, the business model, how, how exactly how much of it is trading versus traditional banking. Uh uh uh you know what, how, how, how much of your, your bank's revenues come from and in at least in percentage terms if you're not gonna give dollar amounts or, or CHF amounts. Uh, how much of it is trading and trading related services versus, uh, traditional banking? Sure. Um, I mean, for us, uh, I'm, I'm not gonna give exact percentages here but what we've seen in particularly the last I'd say the six months before I joined, which was at the beginning of the year. Right. We really saw, um, our, our trading business verticals, um, gain momentum And I think this is uh largely also have to do with the segments that we've started expanding into. Um you know, for particularly some of our crypto native or I can't call them crypto native. But um high net worth that have their wealth from uh crypto, you know, activities and also crypto native treasuries themselves. Um These are really the, the clients that even in the market downturn will continue trading. And um I think this is also a big reason why we have decided to, you know, really make this push into Asia because I guess when you look at crypto globally, um where Asia really stands out, is that like that trading ecosystem? Right? Um But II I so so much, would you say most of sebas uh revenue streams come from trading? I, is there any actual lending and, and uh depositing et cetera and, and earning yield on, on those deposits? Uh What, what exactly is, is, is that kind of what's going on here? Is that a UC Asia as a potential. You, you said it's a growth, it's, it's growth is in trading. Uh but you don't see it as uh you know, using that crypto for lending and things like that for a thing for things non trading related. No, we absolutely, we absolutely do. Right. But um in terms of uh I guess the context of, you know, our conversation today and I want to be really clear with our licensing and our plans in in Hong Kong, the Hong Kong subsidiary licensing um from our f the License Swift headquarters um operating as a separate entity, right? One of, I mean, it is one of the first uh and only fully licensed full service crypto banks. And what this means is um our Swiss entity provides not only banking in custody, but also wealth management, investment advisory services um and a full range of brokerage and trading services across fiat uh traditional securities and crypto assets under the Swiss license, right? So if, if I were to speak with my group hat on, right? Um definitely we see demand for banking services and um you know, borrowing uh lending products um from our Swiss entity into Asia. Um However, in the context of, of Hong Kong are uh because the licensing framework in Hong Kong actually doesn't cover crypto banking just yet, right? This is what we're going to focus on here and we will be working with regulators to expand the scope of license activities. So it's, it's not that we don't see this, this demand from within like the region and in Hong Kong, um it's more that I guess for the focus of this interview, um I don't want to, to make it sound like that's what we're targeting in Hong Kong with the Hong Kong entity. Amy when the announcement was made that Hong Kong was giving crypto licenses to a handful of firms in the jurisdiction. It also came out that banks, the traditional banks in Hong Kong were reluctant to work with firms. The regulators were trying to incentivize and encourage traditional banks there to work with uh crypto firms did save maybe see this as an opportunity to take some of that market share away from those banks. Um Obviously we um before we have our licenses in Hong Kong and especially before we have banking license in Hong Kong, um we don't actively market right on a cross border basis from our Swiss entity, but we do service clients on a reverse inquiry. And what I can say is um the reverse inquiries in a A I mean, globally really um right, but particularly in a a uh the the increase in our inbound pipeline um was explosive. Uh you know, for through the first half of the year um continued and I wouldn't say we're trying to move in there to take market share from the local banks in Hong Kong considering that's not what the Hong Kong license is for um but you know what we see is is uh from our headquarters. Uh we do have a lot of this experience, right? We have been servicing crypto native clients for over four years from Switzerland. Um and we can understand where, you know, some of the the the difficulties are for these banks. Um So all I can say is we, we aren't actively in there trying to take market share from, from local banks at all because uh, we would only, we would only be able to do that under a regulated structure. All right, Amy, we are gonna have to leave it there. Thanks so much for joining us this morning. Thank you. That was the CEO of Saber Banks, a PC division, Amy Yu.

Learn more about Consensus 2024, CoinDesk’s longest-running and most influential event that brings together all sides of crypto, blockchain and Web3. Head to to register and buy your pass now.