Maerki Baumann, a private banking institution in Switzerland, has witnessed a spike in customer demand for its blockchain offerings, prior to launch. According to a report published by local news medium Swiss Info earlier today, the bank, which manages about $8.2 billion has now elected to pursue some blockchain efforts.
Speaking in an interview with Swiss Info, Stephen Zwahlen, the chief executive of the Zurich based bank, said that the bank would be making a significant pivot in order to launch a crypto business. It was at this point that he disclosed an increase in customer demand for future products.
In part, he said, “In our traditional business, we usually have to run after each client. It’s rather rare for clients to knock on our door. We suddenly had 400 people wanting to talk with us. And they were exactly the kind people we had been struggling to access for 10 years.”
Zwahlen claimed that with its crypto endeavors it is looking to corner the market and become the standard for Bitcoin trading experts and other crypto enthusiasts who would like to partner with banks in the country. He added that the crypto industry and the Swiss banking institutions haven’t always had the best relationship, and with this offering, Maerki is hoping to change that.
“It cannot be that innovative Swiss companies have to go to Liechtenstein for corporate banking services,” he said. “Many of them represent a great opportunity to further develop our financial centre.” The blockchain and crypto business has already been approved by the bank’s board, according to Zwahlen. Per the CEO, the initiative will be aimed at providing counsel and business accounts to companies that will like to launch Security Token Offerings (STOs).
Without divulging much information, he revealed that they would be working towards partnering with crypto specialists in order to launch outsourced trading and storage services by early 2020. These services will cover transactions and activities done in Bitcoin and a few other crypto assets.
He also revealed that the bank would look into providing asset management and advisory services to private banks that want to invest in tokenized shares and other cryptocurrency products.
He anticipates that this product category will get much demand as well, adding, “I would expect over time that digital assets such as crypto/blockchain might even take on a greater significance than our traditional private banking business, particularly in terms of asset growth.”
The bank’s entry isn’t particularly surprising, given how important Switzerland is becoming for the crypto industry. Asides from being the headquarters for the Libra Association that will govern Facebook’s proposed Libra stablecoin, the country has proven to be a hub for innovation and a stable environment for people and businesses that would like to buy cryptocurrency.
If Maerki can bridge the gap between the crypto and financial industries effectively, they could be putting themselves in pole position to get much business and show how symbiotic the relationship between both sectors could be.