Seba Crypto AG, a Swiss financial company, has raised 100 million Swiss francs ($104 million) from investors. It aims to offer cryptocurrency/fiat conversion to customers, becoming one of the first regulated banks to do so.
“Crypto and Fiat Within One Account”
It is managed by two ex-UBS Group bankers. CEO Guido Bühler was once managing director of asset servicing at that institution, and chairman Andreas Amschwand was head of foreign exchange. The latter has not yet joined the company; he will leave his job at Julius Baer Wealth Management in 2019.
Said Bühler: “Our vision is when you log in into your online banking, you’d have access to crypto and fiat within one account.”
The firm’s goal is dependant upon receiving approval from the Swiss financial regulator, the Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA). Bühler said that the firm has been talking with the watchdog since April, and will submit a licence application by the end of October.
A FINMA spokesperson said: “We are looking at every application and pursue a neutral approach to business models and technology.”
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According to Bloomberg, Seba Crypto employs 17 people and plans for this number to grow as it expands in Europe and to Singapore.
“A Neutral Approach”
Switzerland is a cryptocurrency-friendly country, holding as it does cryptocurrency’s version of Silicon Valley in the town of Zug. This place has been a breeding ground for cryptocurrency/-blockchain-related projects, and the local council has even trialled local elections on a blockchain. This is where Seba Crypto is based.
In June, the watchdog granted a licence to another cryptocurrency run by another former UBS employee.
At the same time, the watchdog is kept busy chasing after cryptocurrency-related scams. For example, in July it began legal action against ‘Envion AG’ (“World’s Most Profitable Standard of Self-Expanding Crypto Infrastructure”), which raised $100 million selling tokens, in September it issued a warning regarding a dodgy company called Alliance Capital, and more recently it closed down a company which made $4.2 million by selling a fake cryptocurrency.
Employees of finance companies leaving to set up cryptocurrency companies is now an established trend. Examples include defections from investment fund Blackrock, from Commonwealth Bank of Australia, and from Russian payment company Qiwi.