The Swiss Bankers Association (SBA) recently published a set of guidelines aimed at strengthening the availability of financial services to cryptocurrency companies. This is in response to the refusal by a good number of banks in the country to provide financial services to crypto-related businesses.
The SBA guidelines come in the wake of growing concerns that unwillingness on the part of many banks to provide financial services to cryptocurrency firms may lead to an exodus of crypto start-ups from the country.
The strategic adviser of the SBA, Adrian Schatzmann, stated that “We believe that with these guidelines, we’ll be able to establish a basis for discussion between banks and innovative startups, making the dialogue simpler and facilitating the opening of accounts.”
The guidelines indicate a number of operational recommendations for banks partnering with cryptocurrency firms. The SBA makes certain recommendations for companies that are conducting initial coin offerings (ICOs). The guidelines include strict know-your-customer and anti-money laundering (AML) procedures for firms that raise funds through ICOs. The head of the Crypto Valley Association, Oliver Bussmann said that “This provides more clarity not only to banks, but also to startups.”
Reuters quoting sources reports that “[Swiss] banks are worried because some of the companies that carried out ICOs did not do AML checks on their contributors, meaning the banks themselves could fall foul of AML rules.”
With Mr. Bussmann estimating that about 530 companies in the crypto industry have set up operations in Zurich and Zug, it is imperative for the survival of the local industry that firms are able to access basic financial services.
However, the Deputy chief executive officer of the SBA, August Benz, indicated that while the initial discussion between the SBA and local financial institutions has been positive so far, it will take time to assess the impact of the new guidelines.