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Gazprombank opens Bitcoin service in Switzerland

The crypto solution was launched in collaboration with several partners in the fintech industry

A subsidiary of one of the largest banks in Russia, the Gazprombank Switzerland, has introduced a pilot of its Bitcoin (BTC) transaction services after it secured regulatory approval from Swiss regulators.

The announcement that Gazprombank released on 19 November revealed that the bank will be offering its new crypto solution in collaboration with several of its longstanding partners, such as the fintech firm Avaloq and the crypto custody provider Metaco.

Roman Abdulin, the Chief Executive Officer of Gazprombank Switzerland, explained that the new service is working on making cryptocurrency transactions just as convenient as transactions using traditional assets.

“Digital assets will become increasingly important for our clients and the global economy. We are pleased to work together with leading Swiss-based entities on the further development of the Swiss and global crypto and blockchain ecosystem”, Abdulin explained.

Aside from announcing the debut of its first BTC transactions, the banking giant also announced that it has formally joined OpenVASP, which is a major industry association that is focused on providing regulatory compliance for virtual asset service providers (VASPs). The announcement stated that Gazprombank Switzerland is the first banking institution to be a part of the association, joining major industry firms such as the Swiss crypto broker Bitcoin Suisse and the local crypto bank Sygnum.

OpenVASP was launched in late 2019 with the intent to help VASPs in complying with the travel rule, an anti-money laundering regulation that was introduced by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

Gazprombank Switzerland has been busy researching and developing a way to launch crypto services in Switzerland since 2018. The bank secured their approval from the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority regarding its capacity to offer crypto custody and trading services to its institutional and corporate clients just recently, during the latter part of October 2020.

Gazprombank is not the only Russian bank that is working on piloting crypto and blockchain-related services abroad. In September 2020, the country’s largest state-run bank Sberbank also joined a blockchain-based platform for commodity trade with the help of its Swiss subsidiary.

While Russian banks are working on developing the capabilities to debut crypto services abroad, Russian lawmakers continue to introduce more restrictions for the crypto industry in Russia. Apart from formally placing a ban on cryptocurrency payments that will be implemented in 2021, Russian authorities are also planning on introducing prison terms to anyone who fails to report annual crypto transactions that are higher than $600,000.

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