This year several countries have declared Bitcoin as a legal method of payment, including Japan and Russia. This trend suggests that different stock markets will start to substitute some cryptocurrencies for the stock certificate. In addition, some companies have held their initial coin offerings (ICOs) as an alternative to IPOs for funding. Such ICOs are digital platforms with management rights of the digital asset and venture funds. This disruption to the traditional financial system appears to be starting to change the behavior of banks.
This is signaled by the bank Falcon adding Ether, Litecoin and Bitcoin Cash to its blockchain asset management services. This is enabled through a joint venture with Bitcoin Suisse AG. Falcon Private Bank is a Swiss private banking set-up, established over 50 years ago. The bank is based in Zurich, with additional locations in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, London and Luxembourg.
The reason that Falcon has taken this decision reflects a strategic repositioning. The move means that Falcon banking clients can be provided with blockchain asset management solutions; meaning that customers can exchange and hold Bitcoins via Falcon by using their cash holdings. The need to reposition in the financial market is being considered by some institutions because it presents a threat to the traditional model of banking. Banks are traditionally seen as ‘buildings’ of storage, requiring considerable infrastructure and centralized operations. In contrast, blockchain disrupts the bank’s centralized nature.
In contrast to the traditional models, Bitcoin relies on blockchain technology, which comprises three main components. These are: a network of computers, a network protocol and a consensus mechanism. With the application of the technology there is no central authority that ensures the validity of the transaction, and, in most cases, the process is not subject to regulatory oversight.
Commenting on the transformative step, Arthur Vayloyan, who is the Global Head Products & Services, Falcon Private Bank stated: “We are pleased to add Ether, Litecoin and Bitcoin Cash to our services just a month after introducing blockchain asset management solutions with Bitcoin”
The financier adds: “The first reactions to our Bitcoin services have been very encouraging and we are convinced that by adding three new blockchain assets we will fulfil our clients’ future needs.”
Given that, in some sectors, Blockchain technology is directly threatening bank clearing houses and depositary institutions, this is giving some established banking arms pause for thought. The move by Falcon towards embracing digital currency may be the first of many.