Santander Opens Crypto Trading for Wealthy Clients

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  • Santander Private Banking International, part of Banco Santander, now allows high-net-worth clients with Swiss accounts to trade major cryptocurrencies
  • The move opposes the bank’s approach to less wealthy clients, where access to popular crypto exchanges has been restricted in recent years
  • Santander intends to broaden its cryptocurrency offerings in the coming months, contingent on the bank’s screening criteria

Santander Private Banking International, a division of Banco Santander, is now providing high-net-worth clients holding Swiss accounts the opportunity to trade and invest in major cryptocurrencies. The move, revealed in an internal announcement obtained by Coindesk, is misaligned with how the bank is treating less wealthy clients who want to buy cryptocurrencies, with the bank blocking access to prominent crypto exchanges in recent years. In the coming months, Santander plans to expand its cryptocurrency offerings, subject to the bank’s screening criteria.

Jeeves Will Arrange It, Sir

Santander has not been a friend to crypto in recent years, at least to the regular person on the street, with the bank blocking payments to Coinbase as far back as 2019 and adding Binance to the list in 2021.

It seems, however, that if you’re one of the bank’s more profitable clients then you’re allowed to take the risk, with Santander Private Banking International customers needing nothing more than a quick word with their relationship manager to get the ball rolling. To ensure security, the assets are held in a regulated custody model, where the bank stores private cryptographic keys in a secure environment.

Switzerland Chosen for Regulatory Environment

John Whelan, head of crypto and digital assets at Santander, told Coindesk that Switzerland had been chosen as the forefront of the endeavor due to its regulatory environment:

The Swiss regulation related to digital assets is one of the first and most advanced in the world, since it provides clarity and a comprehensive regulatory environment for our clients. As holding of crypto as an alternative asset class continues to expand, we expect that our clients prefer to rely on their existing financial institutions to be responsible for their assets.

Santander’s private banking arm caters to 210,000 affluent clients, managing assets and deposits totaling around $315 billion, so it’s hardly a surprise that it bends its unwritten rules when it comes to these individuals.