Commerzbank to offer crypto services in Germany
Commerzbank AG has obtained a crypto custody license in Germany, making it the first “full-service” German bank to receive such a license under the legal framework of the German Banking Act.
This license enables Commerzbank to offer custody services for crypto assets and expand its digital asset services. The bank’s initial focus will be on institutional and corporate clients, with the first product being a custody service for cryptocurrencies, specifically bitcoin and ether.
Commerzbank said it aims to establish a secure and reliable platform that complies with local regulations to support its institutional clients through crypto custody services via blockchain.
“Acquiring the license is an “important milestone. This highlights our ongoing commitment to applying the latest technologies and innovations, and it forms the foundation for supporting our customers in the areas of digital assets,” added Jörg Oliveri del Castillo-Schulz, chief operating officer of Commerzbank.
This move follows the trend in Germany, where DZ Bank, the country’s third-largest bank, announced its crypto custody offerings for institutional investors earlier in November. DZ Bank unveiled a platform for processing and storing digital financial instruments and applied for a crypto custody license in June 2023.
The crypto landscape in Germany has witnessed growth, with institutions like Deutsche WertpapierServiceBank launching a crypto trading platform to provide access to the digital asset industry for numerous banks and savings banks in the country.
BitGo, a U.S.-based wallet infrastructure provider and digital asset custodian, also received a crypto custody license from the German Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin).
This expansion mirrors moves by other players in the industry, such as Coinbase Custody, which opened an office in Ireland, and Fidelity Digital Assets, which launched a branch in the U.K. Germany’s largest lender, Deutsche Bank AG also applied for regulatory approval to operate as a cryptocurrency custodian in Germany. The Deutsche Bank’s digital asset custody prototype caters specifically to institutional clients to establish a seamless connection between them and the broader cryptocurrency ecosystem.
Germany has been creating a friendly environment for crypto custodians, passing laws that allow banks and crypto specialists to manage digital assets and offer related services. However, the regulatory landscape remains challenging, as seen with Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, which was compelled by the German regulator to withdraw its application for a crypto license.
German financial regulatory authority told Binance in June that it will not issue a digital asset custody license to the crypto giant. The exact nature of this denial, whether it was a formal ruling or a communicated intention during ongoing discussions, has not been clarified.