Russian Gazprombank opens Bitcoin trade in Switzerland

The Swiss subsidiary of the major Russian bank has also joined OpenVASP.

Gazprombank Switzerland is a subsidiary of the major Russian bank of the same name and is now offering Bitcoin (BTC) transactions as part of a pilot project after receiving approval from the Swiss regulatory authorities.

According to an announcement on 19 November, Gazprombank will offer its new crypto-currency solution in cooperation with Bitcoin Rush its long-standing partners. These include the Fintech company Avaloq and the crypto-custodian Metaco.

Roman Abdulin, the CEO of Gazprombank Switzerland, said that the new offering is designed to make crypto transactions „as easy as transactions with traditional assets“:

„Digital assets will become increasingly important for our customers and the global economy. We look forward to working with leading Swiss companies to further develop the Swiss and global crypto and blockchain ecosystem“.

In addition to the first BTC transactions, Gazprombank Switzerland also announced that the bank had joined the OpenVASP association. This is a major industry association focused on compliance for virtual asset management companies (VASPs).

Gazprombank Switzerland is the first banking institution

OpenVASP was founded at the end of 2019 and is designed to help VASPs comply with the recommended rules of the Financial Action Task Force. These rules are known as the „Travel Rule“ and are designed to combat money laundering. According to the announcement, Gazprombank Switzerland is the first banking institution in this association. Large industry companies such as the Swiss crypto-broker Bitcoin Suisse and the local crypto-bank Sygnum are also members of OpenVASP.

At the end of October 2020, Gazprombank Switzerland received a licence from the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority and can now offer crypto-custody and trading services to its institutional and corporate clients. Gazprombank Switzerland, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Gazprombank, has been working towards crypto services in Switzerland since at least 2018.

Other Russian banks also intend to offer crypto and block chain services abroad. In September 2020, Sberbank, Russia’s largest state-owned bank, joined a block chain platform for commodity trade financing through its Swiss subsidiary.

Crypto services abroad are currently very attractive for Russian banks. The Russian legislator in the country itself is increasingly restricting the crypto industry. In addition to an official crypto payment ban in 2021, the Russian authorities also want to introduce prison sentences if annual crypto transactions amounting to about 600,000 US dollars are not declared.