All 80,000 users of German neobank Bitwala can now purchase, hold and earn interest on Bitcoin (BTC) in their bank accounts thanks to a new partnership with cryptocurrency lending platform Celsius Network.
According to Defiprime, Bitwala is the first classic fiat bank to offer interest for holding Bitcoin in an account, with three other decentralized finance apps offering similar products. While the DeFi products have higher rates, up to 8.6% per annum, Bitwala is more regulated and offers fiat and cryptocurrency services in 32 European countries under license from leading German bank SolarisBank AG.
Users can buy as little as 30 euro worth of Bitcoin and hold it in a free Bitcoin Interest Account, receiving interest payouts weekly. The Bitcoin in the accounts is lent out through the Celsius Network to “trusted partners.” Funds can be converted back to euros immediately.
Earning interest with Bitcoin
In a statement, Bitwala CEO Ben Jones referred to the Bitcoin halving as a reminder that “state money [fiat] cannot be inflated eternally”:
“At this time, more and more people trust in Bitcoin. Bitwala is the everyday bridge to it. We are now partnering with Celsius Network, the world’s leading provider of crypto loans, so that our customers can leverage Bitcoin holdings wherever they are.”
Neobanks struggle to obtain licences
Over the last four years, neobank startups have emerged in an attempt to bridge the fiat and crypto finance industries, but few have obtained full banking licenses, and none offer Bitcoin investment accounts.
Revolut received its full banking license in Europe in late 2018, but has struggled to receive an Australian banking license. Former Barclays executive Mark Hipperson has launched the partially licensed Starling Bank as a crypto-friendly neobank.