Portuguese regulators have granted the country’s first central bank-issued crypto license to Bison Bank.
That’s according to a company press release published Tuesday (Jan. 17) announcing the news and a new partnership with Switzerland’s Sygnum Bank, which calls itself the world’s first digital asset bank.
The license from Banco de Portugal, the European nation’s central bank, makes Bison Bank’s subsidiary Bison Digital Assets the first ‘Virtual Asset Service Provider’ (VASP) fully owned by a bank to receive regulatory approval to enter the crypto marketplace in Portugal.
It also makes the Bison Bank subsidiary one of the few with such a license in all of Europe. Portugal is known as one of the most digital asset tax-friendly countries globally.
“Financial institutions must adhere to the highest regulatory, compliance and security standards when offering cryptocurrencies to their client base. We are proud to partner with Sygnum and leverage their crypto-native expertise and established track record as we take our first steps in the digital asset market,” said António Henriques, Bison Digital Assets’ CEO, per the release.
The new partnership between Bison Digital Assets and Sygnum Bank will allow the Portuguese bank to deploy regulated digital asset custody and trading services across global crypto markets, and consolidates Bison Bank’s plan of bridging traditional finance with digital assets.
Clients of Bison Digital Assets will be able to buy, sell and hold popular cryptocurrencies like bitcoin (BTC) and ether (ETH) while also receiving the benefits of being traditionally banked by a regulated organization.
“This expanded offering is underpinned by Sygnum’s and Bison Digital Assets’ robust compliance processes,” the press release stated.
According to its company website, Bison Bank is “fully held by private Chinese capital from Hong Kong” and its operations are meant to bridge European and Asian financial markets.
Sygnum’s white label B2B crypto banking solution has already partnered with 15 other banking institutions, but Bison Digital Assets is the company’s first partner in Europe.
“This represents another trusted node in the expanding European crypto ecosystem, and we look forward to partnering with banks and bank-backed VASPs that empower their end-clients to invest in crypto with complete trust,” Fritz Jost, Sygnum’s chief B2B officer, said.
A Broader Crypto Banking Revolution Remains Unlikely
As PYMNTS reported on Tuesday, Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan recently said his company has not found a “use-case at scale” for cryptocurrencies, despite holding “hundreds” of blockchain patents.
Governments commonly view cryptocurrency with suspicion, seeing them as a tool for dubious purposes and not as its own complex economy on par with traditional financial systems, PYMNTS reported. This makes it challenging for traditional financial institutions to find and leverage appropriately regulated integration synergies that may help their customers.
In a separate discussion, Ron Kruszewski, the chairman and CEO of Stifel, told PYMNTS, “Look, if I were running a crypto fund, I would be sitting in front of you saying we need to assure our customers that putting money in crypto is really no different than putting money in a bank, that we welcome the regulation — how can you have a payment system if you don’t trust that your money will get where it’s meant to be going?”
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A PYMNTS study, “New Payments Options: Why Consumers Are Trying Digital Wallets” finds that 52% of US consumers tried out a new payment method in 2022, with many choosing to give digital wallets a try for the first time.