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  • L Higgins and M Bacina

Santander welcomes clients into the crypto fold

Santander Private Banking International, a subsidiary of Banco Santander, is set to provide high net worth clients with Swiss bank accounts the opportunity to trade and invest in major cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin (BTC) and ether (ETH), according to an internal document seen by CoinDesk. This move marks a departure from the conventional stance of many large banks, which typically navigate cautiously around open-access blockchains and cryptocurrencies.

The decision comes as Santander aims to tap into the growing interest in digital assets among its affluent clientele. According to the internal announcement, the bank plans to expand its cryptocurrency offerings over the next few months, subject to rigorous screening criteria.

The service will be accessible solely upon client request through relationship managers, with assets securely held in a regulated custody model. In this model, the bank safeguards private cryptographic keys in a secure environment, emphasising a commitment to the highest standards of security.

Banco Santander, with a rich history spanning over 160 years and serving 160 million customers globally, is making strides to accommodate the evolving financial landscape. The private bank, catering to 210,000 wealthy clients with assets totaling around USD$315 billion, anticipates that clients will increasingly turn to established financial institutions for responsible management of their cryptocurrency holdings.

Santander's foray into cryptocurrency services for high net wealth clients is not only a strategy move to meet the evolving demands of its clientele, but also indicative of a broader trend among major financial institutions.

With recent discussions from influential players like Citi expressing support for blockchain technology and adoption, the financial landscape is witnessing a potential paradigm shift. The proactive stance of established banks towards embracing and integrating blockchain not only adds credibility to the market but also instills confidence in investors, given the extensive track record of these giants. Ironically, these traditional finance or "TradFi" players may be the ones to herald a new era of collaboration between the old guard and the blockchain frontier.

By Luke Higgins and Michael Bacina

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