Major Swiss private banking and wealth management group Julius Baer has launched a digital assets trading and custodial service via a partnership with regulated crypto-specialist Seba.

Julius Baer announced its new digital assets offering on Jan. 21, the result of its 2018 minority equity stake acquisition and later partnership with crypto startup Seba Bank AG in February 2019. 

Seba, which was founded in April 2018 by former UBS bankers, was granted a securities dealer and banking license by the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority, known as FINMA, in August 2019.

According to Julius Baer’s announcement, the firm’s entry into the cryptocurrency industry had been conditional upon Seba’s attaining the regulatory green-light for its services. 

Firm sees increasing demand for crypto services

Though details of the scope of Julius Baer’s offering remain scant, the firm’s announcement indicates it will make use of Seba’s proprietary platform and capabilities. 

To meet what it deems to be an increasing demand, Julius Baer will be offering its clients services such as secure digital asset custody, cryptocurrency transaction solutions, as well as consolidated portfolio overviews for both traditional and digital assets. 

The bank will support a select group of major cryptocurrencies ostensibly chosen on the grounds of their liquidity, security and technical robustness. Julius Baer has not disclosed which assets exactly it will be offering.

Fully-regulated market entrants

As reported, Seba was granted its FINMA license the same day as fellow Swiss digital asset bank Sygnum.

In December 2019, SEBA expanded its services to institutional clients and accredited investors in nine new countries. 

The bank offers a range of crypto-focused account services, including a SEBAwallet app, e-banking services and SEBA card facilities, with support for five major cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), Stellar (XLM), Litecoin (LTC) and Ether Classic (ETC). 

It also provides investors with both crypto-crypto and crypto-fiat conversion services and offers enterprise accounts for blockchain firms and their employees.

Like Seba, Sygnum is eyeing global expansion and has ostensibly entered talks with regulators to seal a banking license in Singapore.

In fall 2019, Cointelegraph reported on remarks by Christian Gattiker-Ericsson — Julius Baer’s chief strategist and head of research and investment solutions — who argued that cryptocurrencies remain at a stage of a “Darwinian” process of selection, in which a clear winner remains to be established. 

Gattiker-Ericsson also said blockchain technology would  “possibly change the rules of the game” in financial services.