Gazprombank Switzerland, a subsidiary of one of the largest banks in Russia, has piloted its Bitcoin (BTC) transaction service following regulatory approval by Swiss regulators.
According to a Nov. 19 announcement, Gazprombank will provide its new cryptocurrency solution in collaboration with its long-running partners like fintech firm Avaloq and crypto custody provider Metaco.
Gazprombank Switzerland CEO Roman Abdulin said that the new service intends to make crypto transactions “as easy as transactions with traditional assets,” stating:
“Digital assets will become increasingly important for our clients and the global economy. We are pleased to work together with leading Swiss-based entities on the further development of the Swiss and global crypto and blockchain ecosystem.”
In conjunction with debuting its first BTC transactions, Gazprombank Switzerland also announced that the bank has joined OpenVASP, a major industry association focused on regulatory compliance for virtual asset service providers, or VASPs.
Launched in late 2019, OpenVASP intends to help VASPs in complying with the so-called “travel rule” Anti-Money Laundering regulation introduced by the Financial Action Task Force. According to the announcement, Gazprombank Switzerland is the first banking institution to join OpenVASP alongside major industry firms like Swiss crypto broker Bitcoin Suisse and local crypto bank Sygnum.
The latest news from Gazprombank Switzerland comes shortly after the bank scored approval from the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority to offer crypto custody and trading services to its institutional and corporate clients in late October 2020. Fully owned by Russia-based Gazprombank, Gazprombank Switzerland has been preparing to launch crypto services in Switzerland since at least 2018.
Gazprombank is not the only Russian bank piloting crypto and blockchain-related services abroad. In September 2020, Sberbank — the country’s largest state-run bank — joined a blockchain-based platform for commodity trade finance through its Swiss subsidiary.
While Russian banks are rushing to debut crypto services abroad, Russian lawmakers keep introducing more limits to the crypto industry. Alongside officially banning payments in crypto in 2021, Russian authorities also want to introduce prison terms for failing to report annual crypto transactions of about $600,000.