By Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi
ZURICH (Reuters) – Swiss startup SEBA Crypto AG has raised 100 million Swiss francs ($103 million) to build a bank offering cryptocurrency services to companies and investors while extending traditional banking services to firms in the new industry.
Headed by former UBS managers Guido Buehler as chief executive and Andreas Amschwand as chairman, the group said on Thursday it is seeking a banking and securities dealer license to manage cryptocurrency trading and investments for banks and qualified investors.
It also aims to provide corporate financing, including advising on initial coin offerings, and other cryptocurrency and banking services to traditional corporate clients and cryptocurrency groups.
“SEBA wants to bridge the gap between traditional banking and the new world of crypto,” Buehler said.
“With safety, transparency and performance as core values, our ambition is to become a market leader in the convergence of traditional finance with the crypto economy.”
The Zug-based group is seeking a license from Swiss financial market supervisor FINMA. FINMA confirmed that it is in contact with SEBA on the matter.
More than 500 blockchain and cryptocurrency startups have settled around Zug and Zurich. But as the industry has grown, it has faced challenges integrating into the country’s traditional financial hub.
Banks have found promise in the blockchain technology underpinning cryptocurrencies but have been hesitant to commingle with an industry in which due diligence checks were rarely performed during fundraisers a year ago and for which the long-term value still remains to be tested.
Cryptocurrency groups have thus faced difficulty gaining access to banking services.
“In Switzerland we have commitment from various authorities to establish a comprehensive regulatory environment for the development of blockchain technology and the sustainable, stable growth of crypto assets,” Amschwand said.
“This makes Switzerland the ideal place to launch a new financial services paradigm.”
Investors include Swiss-based BlackRiver Asset Management and Hong Kong-based Summer Capital, among other backers from Switzerland, Singapore, Malaysia, China and Hong Kong.
It aims to open branch locations in major financial hubs, beginning with Zurich in 2019, as well as digital services.