Commerzbank wins crypto custody licence in digital assets push

Commerzbank AG has received a crypto custody licence, providing more evidence that European banks are growing warmer toward the asset class.
The license will allow the bank to “build up a broad range of digital asset services, with particular emphasis on crypto assets,” the Frankfurt-based bank said in a statement on Wednesday. It’s the “first German full-service bank” to get the license, it said.The move shows how Europe’s lenders are carefully entering the crypto market after initially shying away from the asset class given the associated risks and potential for money laundering. The push comes during a recovery in the price for Bitcoin, the best-known cryptocurrency, following a slump that ensued last year when a string of high-profile businesses collapsed and fraud scandals hit the industry.

Other banks are making similar moves which they say reflect client demand. In July, Societe Generale SA’s blockchain unit received the first license issued under France’s new crypto rules. Earlier this month, German cooperative lender DZ Bank AG said it has started a platform for the custody of digital assets.

Unlike other European countries, Germany requires banks to get a formal expansion of their existing licenses if they want to provide crypto services including custody. That requirement means the country’s crypto applications afford European banking regulators some transparency into the market.

The European Central Bank is still concerned that lenders will be able to circumvent scrutiny of their crypto businesses, with its top oversight official calling on Tuesday for legislators to close a loophole in the rules.

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