Santander Private Banking International is now allowing its high-net-worth clients with bank accounts in Switzerland to trade and hold Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH).
A part of the Spanish banking giant Banco Santander, Santander Private Banking International plans to expand its crypto offerings in the coming months by introducing additional digital assets that align with its screening criteria, a CoinDesk report from Monday said, citing an internal announcement.
The report noted that the service is available to all private banking clients with accounts in Switzerland, regardless of whether the client resides in Switzerland or not.
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
In a comment to CoinDesk, John Whelan, Santander’s head of crypto and digital assets, praised the regulatory framework for crypto in Switzerland, and said he expects clients to embrace the custodial model for their crypto holdings.
“As holding of crypto as an alternative asset class continues to expand, we expect that our clients prefer to rely on their existing financial institutions to be responsible for their assets,” Whelan said.
Santander Private Banking International serves around 210,000 wealthy clients, managing assets and deposits totaling approximately $315 billion.
The bank has not yet commented publicly on its move to offer crypto to private banking clients.
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