Monday, September 9, 2019

Crypto Banking Expands With Positive Interest Rates and New Services

 




Banking, in the traditional sense of the term, has become a financial burden for account holders in regions where the era of subzero interest rates has already set in. European nations like Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, and Eurozone countries have been in negative territory for some time, and banks there have started passing the burden to corporate and private clients. However, businesses and savers don't have to put up with losing money as the expanding banking services in the crypto space come with much better conditions, including positive interest rates.

Bank Accounts With Bitcoin Wallets in 31 EEA Countries
With the number of cryptocurrency users growing constantly, the need for dedicated digital asset banking naturally increases too. Currently, companies specializing in this niche are actually offering better terms to their customers than traditional financial institutions are able to provide within the fiat system. Of course, it remains to be seen if they will maintain the competitive edge once demand for their services expands significantly.

Germany, the leading EU economy, is now witnessing a backlash against low and negative interest rates. Politicians from different factions have expressed support for an initiative to outlaw punitive interest on deposits of up to €100,000. With negative rates imposed on them by the European Central Bank, ordinary German savers feel like they are once again paying the bill for the rescue of the common currency, the euro. And the ECB is preparing for a new rate cut to an all-time low of -0.50% this month.

Cryptocurrencies are an alternative to fiat money in many respects and they are likely to attract more attention as clouds continue to gather over the world economy a decade after the global financial crisis and the birth of Bitcoin. And while some have warned crypto companies probably shouldn't try to become the banks of a new financial era, there are also reasonable arguments that in many cases they can actually provide better services based on the strengths of decentralized digital currencies.

Berlin-headquartered Bitwala has established itself as a crypto banking and payment provider in Europe. Towards the end of last year, the company announced it's offering customers bank accounts with Ibans through a partnership with Solarisbank, a licensed financial institution operating under the oversight of Bafin, the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority of Germany. Deposits up to €100,000 will be protected by the German deposit guarantee scheme.

Bitwala recently launched a bitcoin banking app for iOS and Android. The company explained that residents of the European Economic Area, all EU countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, can open a German bank account that comes with an integrated BTC wallet and start trading on their smartphones. The onboarding process is now fully integrated into the mobile application and opening a new account takes only a few minutes. The platform uses video identification and EEA residents are required to provide a valid national ID as well as a proof of address. In a statement issued in August, Bitwala Chief Technical Officer Benjamin Jones noted:

Once you have an account, you can seamlessly integrate your daily banking activities – whether in bitcoin or euro – into your everyday life.

Bitwala users can buy and sell cryptocurrency directly from their bank account with a low 1% fee charged per trade. The multi-signature wallet also allows them to transfer bitcoin on a peer-to-peer basis with friends and family. Transactions can be authorized by using biometrics. The company assures customers that in order to protect their coins in the Bitwala wallet, the private keys will remain in their hands.

Zeux is another fintech company that provides banking solutions for both digital and traditional currencies. It recently launched its new Zeux app for Android and iOS devices and introduced bitcoin cash into its ecosystem. The cryptocurrency is now listed on its mobile app which allows crypto users to pay with BCH via Apple Pay and Samsung Pay. The listing will help bring cryptocurrency into everyday life, Zeux explained in an announcement published on Medium.

The banking platform noted that Bitcoin Cash provides peer-to-peer electronic cash transfer at low fees and high security, thereby fulfilling the original promise of Bitcoin.

Earn up to 10% Interest on Your Bitcoin Savings
With the spread of decentralized digital assets and the problems fiat currencies are facing right now, often due to failed central bank policies, demand for traditional-style banking services in the crypto space will continue to grow. There's a void to be filled and platforms such as Cred are doing exactly that.

Similar to a bank, Cred uses the pledged assets to lend to various borrowers including retail investors and money managers. That's on a fully collateralized and guaranteed basis as the platform works with trusted collateral agents and leading custody partners including Bitgo, Bittrex Enterprise and Ledger. The aim is to ensure the safety and security of the digital assets deposited by its customers.

Norwegian Bank Invests in Crypto Exchange
Traditional financial institutions have been tempted to get involved in the crypto space and provide services related to digital assets. Such is the case with Sparebanken Øst, a Norwegian savings bank, which recently announced it had bought a 16.3% stake in the Norwegian Block Exchange (NBX) for 15 million Norwegian krone (approx. $1.67 million). The new trading platform is expected to start operations this month.

Admitting the high risk of the investment, Sparebanken Øst nevertheless noted in a press release its belief that "the ownership position in NBX is sound, based on the bank's solidity and risk profile, and is responsible in relation to the bank's needs and desire to take a leading role in technological developments in the industry." The crypto exchange itself plans to also provide payment services to its customers. NBX will be fully compliant with Norwegian regulations applicable to its financial activities.

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