In first, Swiss regulator issues banking license to two blockchain firms

Switzerland’s Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) has issued banking and securities dealers’ licenses to two new blockchain firms - SEBA Crypto and Sygnum.

The regulator announced the news on Monday, saying that this is the first time it has issued such licenses to “pure-play blockchain service providers. The licenses will allow SEBA Crypto Sygnum to provide services to institutional and professional customers.

"Sygnum’s plans for corporates include the ability to raise new capital by producing asset tokens based on existing financial assets, thereby lowering capital raising costs and improving liquidity for issuers and investors," the firm said in a separate statement. 

SEBA Crypto said that the license is a "milestone for the entire digital asset market ecosystem," and that the bank is expected to officially go-live in early October 2019.

FINMA today also issued guidance, which says that existing anti-money laundering (AML) laws apply to blockchain payments, as the "inherent anonymity of blockchain technology presents increased risks."

“Institutions supervised by FINMA are only permitted to send cryptocurrencies or other tokens to external wallets belonging to their own customers whose identity has already been verified and are only allowed to receive cryptocurrencies or tokens from such customers,” the regulator said, adding:

“FINMA-supervised institutions are thus not permitted to receive tokens from customers of other institutions or to send tokens to such customers.”