UNIFY Financial Credit Union and Five Star Bank Allows Customers to Now Buy, Sell, and Hold Bitcoin

UNIFY Financial Credit Union and Five Star Bank Allows Customers to Now Buy, Sell, and Hold Bitcoin

Five Star Bank and UNIFY Financial Credit Union will be the first banks to offer their customers the ability to buy, sell, and hold Bitcoin, said Digital banking company Q2 Holdings.

This has been made possible by Q2’s partnership with institutional bitcoin broker NYDIG. The partnership was first announced in June to meet the demands of the bank’s account holders.

At the time, NYDIG also partnered with digital banking services firm NCR to make crypto purchases available to 650 banks.

Q2, a Texas fintech firm that has 18.3 million users, provides online banking software to more than 450 small and medium-sized banks and credit unions, including Scotiabank, Mercantile Bank, and Texas Security Bank.

Finally, this partnership has come to fruition as the everyday customers of these two banks will be able to trade and hold Bitcoin alongside their existing accounts without needing to use the cryptocurrency exchanges.

The New York-based Five Star Bank has about 50 branches, and California-headquartered UNIFY has 50 branches worldwide with more than $3 billion in assets.

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Author: AnTy

France Central Bank ‘Successfully’ Tests its CBDC in a Series of Government Bond Transactions

France Central Bank ‘Successfully’ Tests its CBDC in a Series of Government Bond Transactions

France’s central bank executed a series of bond transactions using its own digital currency and blockchain technology as part of the 10-month experiment in the country’s debt market.

A consortium of France’s biggest financial market participants, including BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole CIB, HSBC, and Societe Generale, along with the French public debt office and Banque de France executed the transactions using a system developed by IBM, according to a report published by securities depository Euroclear, which led the trial.

“This project went well beyond previous blockchain initiatives because it successfully tested most central securities depository and central bank processes whilst eliminating current interim steps, such as reconciliation between market intermediaries,” said Soren Mortensen, global director of financial markets at IBM, in the report.

“We are rapidly moving towards fundamental change in the post-trade market infrastructure.”

Earlier this year, Banque de France published a request for proposals for central bank digital currency (CBDC) “experiment” applications to help it understand the risks and mechanisms of digital fiat.

The pilot was commissioned by the central bank of France in March last year to explore how digital fiat would exchange and settle with deals recorded on a digital ledger.

“We have together successfully been able to measure the inherent benefits of this technology, concluding that the central bank digital currencies can settle central bank money safely and securely,” said Isabelle Delorme, deputy chief executive of Euroclear France.

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Author: AnTy

Brazil’s Central Bank Governor Expects Crypto Investment in Country to Surpass $9 Billion

Brazil’s Central Bank Governor Expects Crypto Investment in Country to Surpass $9 Billion

Brazilians have already bought more than $4 billion in crypto this year up to August, as per the central bank report.

The total value of cryptocurrencies purchased by Brazilians this year has exceeded $4 billion, according to the data released by the Central Bank of Brazil in a report last week.

A total of nearly R$ 23.3 billion, $4.270 billion has been traded from January to August-end. In August, the purchase value was $496 million.

In August, Roberto Campos Neto, the president of Brazil’s central bank, also said that they need to pay attention to cryptocurrencies as they are here to stay. “We need to reshape the world of regulation,” he added.

The value of crypto assets bought by Brazilians reached its peak in May at $756 million. That month, the Brazilian market broke a record by trading R$ 826 million ($150 million) in Bitcoin in a single day.

But since then, they saw a drop in June and July at $695 million and $583 million, respectively. Still, these numbers have been much higher than the figures reported earlier this year in February at $386 million and $357 million in March.

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Last week, Deputy Governor for Monetary Policy at the central bank, Bruno Serra, said the Brazilians investment in crypto assets abroad is potentially three times greater than in American shares. He further said that there is a potential for this investment in crypto to reach R$ 50 billion (more than $9 billion in USD).

Serra also believes that people’s interest in cryptocurrencies is unlikely to fade anytime soon.

Earlier this month, as we reported, a bill advanced through Brazil’s House of Representatives, which has been in development since 2015, to regulate cryptocurrency in the country.

The bill calls for creating clearer definitions of crypto, will require virtual asset service providers to register, and further aims to crack down on crypto crimes by imposing higher fines and harsher prison sentences.

After being approved by a special committee of the Chamber of Deputies, the bill is currently in the hands of the Chamber’s Plenary, and once green-lit by them, it will advance to the Senate to be discussed before finally going to the president for a final nod.

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Author: AnTy

Arab Bank Partners With Tezos (XTZ) for Crypto Custody and Staking

Arab Bank Partners With Tezos (XTZ) for Crypto Custody and Staking

Crypto-friendly policies in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have been ramping up recently, with another leading financial institution making a big splash in the crypto industry.

Growth for Everyone Involved

Arab Bank Switzerland – the Swiss subsidiary of the Arab Bank, has partnered with the Tezos Foundation to enable institutional crypto custody, per a press release. The partnership will see Arab Bank Switzerland integrate Tezos’ XTZ token to ensure seamless asset custody while also adding services like staking and trading for the coin.

The new service will be targeted at high-net-worth individuals and large institutions. Arab Bank Switzerland explained that it had chosen XTZ because of the coin’s focus on energy conservation, quick upgrades, and gas fee reduction.

Commenting on the new development, Rani Jabban, Arab Bank Switzerland’s managing director, explained that cryptocurrencies remain an important part of the bank’s strategy going forward.

Jabban pointed out that Arab Bank Switzerland understands the need for agility and security when dealing with cryptocurrencies. The bank is looking to merge tradition and innovation while ensuring that customers’ funds are safe. In Tezos’s scalable infrastructure, the bank has a reliable partner.

Massive Crypto Adoption on Foreign Shores

The move underscores what appears to be a continued embrace from both Swiss banking institutions and the UAE. Swiss banks have been known for their foresight and innovation, so it’s no surprise that they are pushing ahead with crypto adoption.

Last week, SEBA Bank AG – a regulated Swiss financial institution that focuses on digital asset offering, announced that it had gotten a CISA license from the Swiss Financial Market Authority (FINMA) to offer institutional-grade custodial services for investment schemes.

The license, SEBA has become the world’s first crypto-centric bank to gain a custody license. The institution will be able to expand its investment opportunities to professional clients in the digital asset market.

The UAE has also welcomed the use of crypto trading through the Dubai free trade zone.

Last month, the Dubai World Trade Centre Authority (DWTCA) reached an agreement with the UAE’s Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA) to support crypto trading regulation within the DWTCA free zone.

The new initiative will establish a framework for the DWTCA to issue all needed licenses and approvals for crypto-related financial services in the region. As part of the agreement, the SCA will monitor all crypto-related activities – including asset listing, issuance, trading, and licensing.

Maryam Al Suwaidi, the SCA’s acting chief executive, explained that the new project aligns with the DWTCA’s commitment to expand its services as a free zone and support the growth of emerging technologies. Dubai intends to become a digital-led economy, and the DWTCA will be looking to support blockchain and crypto-enabled businesses in any way it can.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

5th Largest US Bank Is Setting Up Bitcoin Custody, With Other Crypto’s to be Supported Soon

5th Largest US Bank Is Setting Up Bitcoin Custody, With Other Cryptocurrencies to be Supported Soon

US Bancorp (US Bank) has launched a cryptocurrency custody service for institutional investment managers with private funds in the U.S. or Cayman Islands.

The fifth-largest US bank has more than $8.6 trillion in assets under custody and administration and $282 billion in assets under management as of June 30, 2021.

It was this week; the bank announced the launch saying bitcoin service provider NYDIG will act as a sub-custodian.

“Investor interest in cryptocurrency and demand from our fund services clients have grown strongly over the last few years,” said Gunjan Kedia, vice-chair of the bank’s wealth management and investment services.

While starting with Bitcoin, it will soon support other cryptocurrencies as well.

US Bancorp is just another bank allowing access to cryptocurrency while the regulatory scrutiny increases.

This week, Bank of America also started covering crypto and released its first report titled “Digital Assets Primer: Only the first inning.”

“Companies aren’t taking the risk of ignoring digital assets and applications and are actively exploring this new technology and its use cases,” reads the report, adding, leading tech companies along with banks, financial institutions, and others have also started to adjust their approach to crypto.

It further noted that an estimated 14% (21.2mn) of US adults own digital assets, with an additional 13% (19.3mn) planning to buy this year. The average age of these potential buyers is 44, and 53% of them are female.

“Despite regulatory headwinds, we are bullish on the prospects for digital assets as it enters the mainstream. We anticipate significant growth as use cases move beyond BTC’s store of value thesis to an industry characterized by product innovation.”

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Author: AnTy

Third Largest Bank of France Submits a Proposal on MakerDao for $20M Security Tokens Refinancing

Third Largest Bank of France Submits a Proposal on MakerDao for $20 Million Security Tokens Refinancing

Société Générale, the third-largest bank in France with 29 million clients, is directly interacting with decentralized finance through the original DeFi protocol MakerDAO.

This week, the bank submitted a proposal for “[Security Tokens Refinancing] MIP6 Application for OFH Tokens” on the MakerDao forum.

The European investment firm’s blockchain subsidiary made a collateral onboarding application to Maker for $20 million backed by EUR bonds. The proposal reads,

“This first experiment at the crossroads between regulated and open source initiatives is intended to refinance a Covered Bond Token that has been issued last year on the Ethereum public blockchain.”

The bank’s OFH Tokens issued by Societe Generale SFH are covered bonds benefiting from a statutory privilege, which can only be traded over-the-counter (OTC).

Through this pilot use case, SG-Forge aims to refinance the OFH Tokens held by the banking giant and integrate with one of the largest DeFi protocols, MakerDAO.

As per the proposal, this transaction will allow the peer-to-contract lending platform that enables over-collateralized loans to have a different types of collateral assets from the cryptocurrencies. These will be non-volatile types of collateral assets, it added.

The DAI loan will be for up to $20 million for a maturity period of 6 to 9 months. DAI is a fully collateralized stablecoin native to Maker’s decentralized autonomous organization (DAO).

“The DAIs have been characterized as digital assets as defined under French Law,” notes the proposal.

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“Turns out it was the future of France all along!” said Rune Christensen, founder of MakerDAO.

“Amazed that I had no clue about this at all the whole time. This is one of multiple recent examples in Maker Governance of how the post-foundation model of organization is proving to be more scalable.”

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Author: AnTy

Swiss-based SEBA Bank Becomes The First Firm To Receive A Digital Asset Custodian License From Regulators

Swiss-based SEBA Bank Becomes The First Firm To Receive A Digital Asset Custodian License From Regulators

Switzerland-based SEBA Bank became the first Swiss-licensed financial institution to receive a license from regulators to offer digital assets to mutual funds in the country. The cryptocurrency-focused bank will act as a custodian to the firm enabling mutual funds to get exposure to cryptocurrencies.

In an announcement on Wednesday, the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority, or FINMA, announced they have granted a license, a first of its kind, to SEBA Bank, one of the leading banks dealing with digital assets in Switzerland, to offer mutual funds investments in digital currencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. The bank will act as the custodian of the funds from institutional clients enabling them to add to their alternative investments basket.

In a phone interview, SEBA Bank CEO Guido Buehler confirmed the product would first be launched to institutional clients with retail clients in plans.

“This collective investment scheme license allows institutional clients, and then later retail clients, to invest into crypto assets on a liquid basis through fund structures.”

”It means there is now the opportunity for institutions to establish their fund structures for crypto as a liquid asset, so people can subscribe today and can sell tomorrow.”

The fintech firm launched in mid-2018 promising to offer clients the “best services in digital banking” and has since introduced digital assets and cryptocurrencies in line with the company’s vision. Having received its digital asset banking license in late 2019, the bank raised $95 million (100 million CHF) in mid-2020 in a bid to enhance its services in preparation for institutional investors.

Unlike the US and China, which are setting up strict regulations on cryptocurrency, Switzerland is leading the way in offering digital asset licenses to Swiss companies. Such ease in regulations is seeing growing interest in traditional firms hoping on to the crypto train. Recently, Swiss-bank UBS was reported exploring various alternatives to offer its wealthy clients exposure to cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Resistance Grows to Big Bank and Cryptocurrency Critic for the OCC Chair

Resistance Grows to Big Bank and Cryptocurrency Critic for the OCC Chair

Cryptocurrency regulations continue to stall in the United States, with regulators and industry players seemingly unable to reach a consensus. At the same time, the Biden administration appears to be having trouble with its latest financial regulatory candidate.

Saule Omarova Could Regulate Crypto Into ‘Oblivion’

This week, tensions appear to mount in Washington as resistance grows against President Biden’s pick to lead the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). The proposed agency head – Cornell University Law School professor Saule Omarova – has been broadly criticized for her policy proposals and her views of cryptocurrencies and large banking institutions.

Earlier this week, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tx) took to Twitter to criticize Omarova’s proposed appointment, calling her a “danger to our traditional economy.” The former Presidential candidate stated that Omarova’s selection would essentially lead to crypto being regulated “into oblivion,” adding that her nomination needs to be stopped.

President Biden had announced Omarova’s nomination to lead the OCC last week. Bloomberg was the first to report the nomination, citing that she could be confirmed before the end of the month.

In her time at Cornell, Omarova has shown significant signs of seeking tighter regulations for big banks and cryptocurrencies. She has especially described the crypto sector as threatening to the stability of the economy and ripe for abuse by large financial institutions. She has also offered some radical recommendations for running the finance industry, including advocating for the Federal Reserve to exclusively administer consumer banking services – not private companies.

With the Democrats holding a slim majority in the Senate, there are significant fears that Omarova will eventually be confirmed as the new OCC head. But, big players in the banking sector have started lobbying against her appointment, and Congress members have raised their voice in opposition too.

Besides Cruz, Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) has also called for a review of Omarova’s nomination. The Senator, who serves as the ranking member on the Senate’s Banking Committee, commented last week that he had reservations about Omarova due to her “extreme leftist ideas.”

Washington Is Changing

Omarova’s pick is just the latest move by the Biden administration to beef up its financial regulatory landscape. Just this week, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced that Dan Berkovitz – one of the three commissioners at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) – will be joining the agency as general counsel in November.

Berkovitz’s departure from the CFTC follows President Biden’s selection of Christy Goldsmith and Kristin Johnson to fill the agency seats left vacant by former Chairman Heath Tarbert and Brian Quintenz. Berkovitz has been quite critical of financial regulators and their action against crypto companies, so his addition to the SEC seems to be a good thing for crypto.

Berkovitz will be the second major pro-crypto name at the SEC, joining commissioner Hester M. Pierce.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

European Bank with $2.6 Trillion AUM Is Launching Crypto Custody Service

European Bank with $2.6 Trillion AUM Is Launching Crypto Custody Service

CACEIS, which has $4.96 trillion in assets under custody, is nearing the launch of a crypto custody service, reported CoinDesk, citing two people familiar with the plans.

The bank, which has $4.96 trillion in assets under its custody, is working with a Swiss-based custody technology provider Metaco. Metaco already provides its services to a number of European lenders, including BBVA and Standard Chartered.

CACEIS is looking for a comprehensive service provider which is integrated into the crypto market to address their various needs and not just custody.

The Paris headquartered bank is owned by Crédit Agricole (69.5%) and Banco Santander (30.5%) and provides its services to asset managers, insurance companies, pension funds, banks, private equity, and real estate funds, brokers, and corporate clients.

Earlier this year, the world’s largest custodian and the oldest bank in the US, BNY Mellon, announced that it would hold and transfer Bitcoin on behalf of its clients for which it invested in custody tech firm Fireblocks.

At the time, it further said that it would also cover stablecoins, tokenized securities, real assets, and eventually even central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) in its digital asset unit.

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Author: AnTy

Chivo Implements Measures “Against Money Laundering,” El Salvador’s Largest Bank Accepts Bitcoin Payments

Chivo Implements Measures “Against Money Laundering,” El Salvador’s Largest Bank Accepts Bitcoin Payments

There is also “no tax” – income or capital – on profits from Bitcoin investment in the country in order to “encourage foreign investment,”

Bancoagrícola, the largest bank in El Salvador, will be allowing its customers to pay their credit card bills and loans in Bitcoin. The cryptocurrency can also be used to purchase goods and services from the bank’s merchant network.

Founded in 1955, Bancoagrícola is partnering with New York-based payment network Flex to enable the payments in BTC via its mobile app.

Flexa announced that the bank’s customers will be able to pay US dollar-denominated loans and credit card balances with BTC at “the exact fair market rate, without any additional fee or spread.”

Bancoagrícola merchants that are accepting payments through the bank’s Wompi payment gateway can also make use of Flexa-powered bitcoin payments.

Earlier last week, El Salvador became the world’s first nation to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender alongside the US dollar. The adoption also saw multinational chains like McDonald’s and Starbucks accepting BTC as a form of payment.

Adopting Bitcoin also means the nation won’t be levying any tax on cryptocurrency investment.

“If a person has assets in bitcoin and makes high profits, there will be no tax. This (is done) obviously to encourage foreign investment,” Javier Argueta, legal adviser to President Nayib Bukele, told AFP.

“There will be no taxes to pay on either the capital increase or the income.”

As for the fears over the potential for Bitcoin’s illegal use, Argueta said the wallet called “Chivo” allows Salvadorans at home and abroad to buy and spend the cryptocurrency as implemented “relevant mechanisms” to ensure traceability.

“We are implementing a series of recommendations from international institutions against money laundering,” said the adviser adding, transactions would be halted temporarily if the value were to collapse to minimize the impact of extreme currency fluctuation.

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Author: AnTy