If early press is anything to go by, traditional finance is ready for a crypto-bank. Read the reaction to SEBA’s launch from CNN, Bloomberg, Reuters and more.
We’re delighted to have received a glowing reception from both the mainstream financial news and the crypto press. We’ve been featured on CNN, Bloomberg, The Financial Times, New York Times, Business Insider, Coindesk, Coin Telegraph and many more.
If this coverage is anything to go by, traditional finance is ready for our vision of a fully licensed and supervised crypto-bank to act as a bridge into the burgeoning crypto economy.
It’s extremely encouraging to see the mainstream financial press in particular so fully understand the thirst investors have to dive into blockchain - and the equal need for a regulated entry point for this to happen.
Don’t just take our word for it. Here is a quick round-up of our recent media highlights.
SEBA CEO Guido Buehler was interviewed at length by CNN’s Olivia Chang for an edition of CNN Money’s On the Block – the channel’s dedicated blockchain program.
During the 17-minute exchange, Buehler spoke on everything from the overarching SEBA concept - providing a bridge between the fiat and crypto spaces - to the need for educating investors on Blockchain and our plans for doing so.
An astute interviewer, Chang pointedly asked whether SEBA could help prevent a Swiss crypto-drain. Buehler said yes.
Despite numerous statements and signals from the Swiss authorities that the country aims to be a champion of the new crypto economy, it has so far been very difficult for crypto-related companies to access the financial services they need to operate. In many cases - including SEBA’s, as Buehler related - it is difficult to even obtain a bank account.
As Chang explained, this has led to many companies looking to countries like Lichtenstein for their base, underlining the need for a regulated, licensed bank for the crypto community in Switzerland - if the country is to fulfil its crypto ambitions.
Buehler also discussed the importance of obtaining the Banking and Securities Dealer License SEBA is seeking, so that investors - both institutional and high-net-worth individuals can have the confidence that the bank operates to the same high standards as traditional financial institutions.
Reflecting on the recent downturn in cryptocurrencies, Buehler commented that it is most likely a correction signalling the start of a period of stability. Once the market steadies, Bitcoin will realize its potential as a stable store of value.
However, Buehler agrees with Chang that a considerable perception shift is required to attract traditional investors to crypto and sees SEBA as playing a significant role in that progression.
Towards the end of the interview, Buehler outlines plans for SEBA’s ‘Click and Mortar’ model of banking - operating primarily digitally, but also opening physical branches. These branches will operate “more like galleries”, and provide education on how blockchain works, and how to strategically invest in the space. He briefly mentioned plans to found SEBA University, to further promote understanding of blockchain.
Bloomberg lead by reporting our $104 million investment backing. They follow by outlining SEBA CEO Guido Buehler’s background as a managing director of asset servicing at UBS, and SEBA chairman Andreas Amschwand’s as UBS global head of foreign exchange.
They then bring out the tension between Switzerland’s attempts at positioning the town of Zug as Crypto Valley and FINMA’s approach to crypto so far - citing the regulator’s decision to shut down a number of coin providers operating without a banking license.
The observation is accurate, and further underlines the need for a regulated bank to serve as entry point to the crypto space. Bloomberg also quote a FINMA spokesman as saying it has a “neutral approach” to business models and technology – indirectly explaining that the coin platforms weren’t living up to the same standards as existing banks.
Bloomberg point out that digital currencies have surpassed the level of volatility seen in the 2000s dot-com boom, but balance with Buehler’s rebuttal: “Short-term volatility does not undermine long-term validity of digital assets.”
Business Insider UK
Business Insider featured SEBA twice in September. The first piece, a report on SEBA’s launch, contains a compact, perceptive analysis of the current state of play in the crypto landscape in Zug.
According to Business Insider, banks have found promise in the technology of blockchain, but are hesitant to get too involved due to a lack of due diligence checks made during fundraising rounds - referencing, perhaps, the same organizations FINMA cracked down on.
This again underlines the importance of the SEBA mission, to have a FINMA-endorsed path into crypto. The banks are interested, they just need a safe route to take.
We are enormously flattered to have been featured a second time, as number five in 10 things you need to know in markets today on September 27th.
Reuters covers the same ground as much of our initial media coverage but concludes its report by highlighting our international group of investors. It cites Swiss-based BlackRiver Asset Management, Hong Kong-based Summer Capital and “other backers from Switzerland, Singapore, Malaysia, China and Hong Kong.”
This emphasizes the tangible global demand for a gateway into crypto from serious international investors. Reuters also mention our ambition to open branches in international finance hubs, beginning with Zurich in 2019.
In the crypto media, Coindesk draw comparisons between SEBA and the U.S. based Circle - which is seeking a securities license in the U.S.
Although we have similar goals - providing a regulated route between fiat and crypto - the limitations of U.S. banking regulations, and the U.S. view that crypto-tokens constitute securities, mean that Circle will solely be an investment bank; providing only brokerage and trading services.
As Coindesk itself notes, SEBA aims to offer a full suite of services, from cryptocurrency trading to asset management and custody services - a banking model rarely possible outside of Switzerland.
Coin Telegraph further elucidates the difficulties currently faced by the nascent crypto industry in Switzerland, detailing the scant banking provisions currently available for crypto-related companies.
They cite private bank Maerki Baumann accepting crypto assets as payment, but not providing cryptocurrency investment services beyond advisement. They also point to Hypothekarbank Lenzburg becoming the first bank to accept crypto customers, but being very selective in doing so. Coin Telegraph report that as of June, the bank has only accepted two crypto companies as clients.
This is placed within the context of the Swiss Bankers Association (SBA) issuing guidelines on ICOs in order to “prevent a mass exodus from Switzerland due to regulatory arbitrage.”
We are, of course, pleased to be receiving a warm reaction by both sides of the financial press. What’s more striking is how widely appreciated the need is for the service we aim to provide. Our mission is not falling on deaf ears. There is a well-recognized gap, and we seek to fill it.