Basler Kantonalbank, or BKB, a government-owned commercial bank in Switzerland, is planning to launch cryptocurrency services through its banking subsidiary.

According to an Aug. 3 report by local news agency Finews, BKB’s subsidiary and a national banking group, Bank Cler, are working on services that will allow customers to trade and store cryptocurrencies. BKB holds a majority stake in Cler, though the subsidiary possesses its own banking license separate from BKB. 

Access to financial products

A spokesperson at BKB confirmed the news to Cointelegraph. They also noted that the bank plans to launch these products in response to an increased demand for crypto services in the country.

The BKB representative said:

“In the BKB Group, we are working to offer our clients a solution for the trading and deposit of selected cryptocurrencies. As an established regional (Basler Kantonalbank) and indeed national (Bank Cler) banking group, we wish to give our clients secure access to these new financial products.”

The spokesperson did not specify what types of cryptocurrencies will be available through BKB. Development is currently at an early stage and there is not yet a tentative date for launch.

Ahead of the pack

These plans make Basler Kantonalbank the first government-backed bank in Switzerland to enter the crypto industry. “This topic is being driven forward within the BKB Group by the digital competence centre of Bank Cler,” a BKB spokesperson said regarding the matter.

Home to the infamous “Crypto Valley,” Switzerland is known as one of the most crypto-friendly jurisdictions in the world. In August 2018, Swiss SIX Exchange-listed bank, the Hypothekarbank Lenzburg, became the first Swiss bank to provide company accounts for blockchain and crypto-related fintech companies. Maerki Baumann, an unlisted family-owned bank in Switzerland, reportedly became the second bank to accept crypto in August 2018.

Julius Baer, a top-five Swiss bank, saw its net profit surge over 30% after listing Bitcoin and other cryptos in the first half of 2020, as reported on July 20.