Savings banks agree on wallet – without Bitcoin trading

Savings banks agree on wallet – without Bitcoin trading

There are around 360 savings banks in Germany

© IMAGO / Michael Gstettenbauer

The savings banks want to introduce a wallet for digital systems, but bank customers cannot buy cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and Co. with it. What are the details of the compromise?

The dispute over direction is over. After half a year of internal discussions, the savings banks have agreed not to offer their customers trading in currencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and Co. The entire board of the German Savings Banks and Giro Association (DSGV) decided on Monday that one had to protect its customers from “incalculable risks”. For this reason, the financial group does not want to sell any cryptocurrencies in the future.

The step does not come as a surprise. After Finance Forward and Finanz-Scene unveiled plans for a crypto feature late last year, there were heated discussions about the topic in the Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe. DSGV President Helmut Schleweis announced in early 2022 that cryptocurrencies would be “similar to a pyramid scheme”, other officials agreed. In Schleswig-Holstein, on the other hand, there were milder tones: A crypto offer is about making customers “our own offer for secure access to crypto assets without us recommending them as an investment,” it said. In the end, the critics prevailed.

Tokenized stocks and real estate are planned

The compromise solution now provides for the savings banks to introduce a wallet for tokenized assets. A spokeswoman said that tokenized shares in the fund house Deka or later also real estate should be able to be traded on it. An advantage of the process for real estate: You can also trade small parts via the tokens. So far, however, the market is still small.

Internally, one has observed over the years how much money their own customers would transfer to crypto providers, according to the savings bank sector – which is why the decision should not prevent some savings banks from entering the business. Two small savings banks are already offering a crypto feature in cooperation with the Stuttgart Digital Exchange, as reported by the Handelsblatt.

Crypto crash and internal conflict as drivers

The innovation camp of the Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe in particular advertised crypto trading internally. For a young generation, a crypto feature should be part of it, many banks are already working on offers, including the Volks- und Raiffeisenbanken. The advance of the savings banks had surprised many – and now leads to the compromise solution. The current crypto crash is likely to have driven the decision in this direction, as several large crypto players have been struggling with problems for weeks.

There was also another internal conflict. The fact that the plans came from the savings bank subsidiary S-Payment annoyed many in the sector – after all, the wallet was supposed to be used for trading in digital currencies and was therefore actually an investment tool. However, S-Payment is not responsible for “investments”, this is the responsibility of the fund house Deka, from which the tokenized assets should now also come.

First appeared on Finance Forward, the fintech portal by Capital and OMR. You can register for the daily newsletter here.

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