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Major Cryptocurrencies Bitcoin and Ethereum Now Available for Swiss Santander Accounts

Santander Private Banking International, a division of the Spanish banking giant Banco Santander, has recently opened the opportunity for its high-net-worth clients holding bank accounts in Switzerland to trade and hold Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH).

As part of its strategic move into the cryptocurrency space, Santander Private Banking International plans to broaden its crypto offerings in the coming months. This expansion will involve the introduction of additional digital assets that align with the institution’s specific screening criteria. The information, cited from an internal announcement, was reported by CoinDesk on Monday.

Importantly, the service is accessible to all private banking clients who have accounts in Switzerland, irrespective of whether the client resides within Switzerland or elsewhere.

Santander reportedly emphasized in the internal note that the crypto trading service is exclusively provided upon client request through their relationship managers.

The note also said that digital assets bought by clients will be held by a regulated custodian that stores the private keys to the assets.

The wording indicates that self-custody of crypto will not be supported by Santander for the time being.

Still, the move sets Santander apart from many other major banks, as it offers access to digital assets on open and permissionless blockchains, as opposed to closed and permissioned blockchains that are being developed by banks like JPMorgan.

Clients expected to embrace custodial model

John Whelan, Santander’s head of crypto and digital assets, commended Switzerland’s regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies in a statement to CoinDesk. Whelan expressed confidence in clients embracing the custodial model for their cryptocurrency holdings, considering it a preferred option as the adoption of crypto as an alternative asset class continues to grow.

Santander Private Banking International, which caters to about 210,000 affluent clients, oversees assets and deposits amounting to roughly $315 billion. While the bank has not issued a public statement regarding its foray into offering cryptocurrencies to private banking clients, this move represents a notable step in providing crypto services within the context of a traditional financial institution.

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I want to save money. Will cryptocurrency work?

Cryptocurrency is essentially virtual money that operates in a decentralized manner, not through a bank but directly on multiple independent computers.

Every cryptocurrency has two main components: the units of digital exchange called “coins” and the network within which the exchange takes place. These units can be transferred between wallets and exchanged on exchanges. The networks in which these coins exist are called blockchains, which translates to “chains of blocks.”

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