Savings banks (Sparkasse) in Germany are developing a crypto project that could enable their customers to trade digital currencies.
According to the plans, Sparkasse customers would be able to buy cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin and Ethereum, directly through their checking accounts. The bank highlighted this as an advantage for customers, who would no longer have to go through KYC processes of joining exchanges to trade crypto. The chain of savings banks also underlined the trust that customers have in its brand, as financially conservative Germans warm to the volatile asset class.
However, the Sparkasse committees must approve of a pilot project before any action can be taken, which could happen during the vote early next year. If approved, the banks could offer what is effectively a digital wallet later in the year.
Any corresponding pilot projects would likely start at individual savings banks. Though operating under a collective brand, the regional principles of these savings banks enables each of the roughly 370 institutions around the country to independently determine whether to offer crypto trading or not.
Although developments will ultimately depend on the vote, the banks had already demonstrated their growing interest in the project. For instance, a dedicated team at the IT service provider S-Payment is preparing the concept. With around 50 million customers, the successful implementation of Sparkasse’s digital asset services could be a major boon for crypto adoption in Europe.
Crypto banking in Australia
Last month, Commonwealth Bank (CBA) became the first mainstream bank in Australia to offer crypto services, following prolonged hesitation from the country’s lending industry. In offering these services, CBA partnered with American crypto exchange Gemini and blockchain analysis firm Chainalysis. The bank’s research had revealed that many of its customers were already buying, selling and holding crypto assets through a variety of crypto exchanges.
Despite scrutiny following the announcement, including a potential probe from the country’s financial regulator, CBA CEO Matt Comyn defended his move. He believes private digital money will likely become a permanent fixture of the financial system, so he would rather his bank influence regulation surrounding it. “We believe we would rather have a seat at the table and be understanding, versus … many financial institutions [who] look at the space and hope it will be regulated out of existence,” Comyn said. “I think that is unlikely.”
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