Crypto bank SEBA is confident of attracting a “three-digit” number of Swiss clients by the end of the year before setting its sights on global expansion and raising more than CHF100 million ($101 million) in extra funding from the public.
The Swiss financial regulator awarded SEBA a banking license in August, along with another bank specialising in blockchain-powered digital assets, Sygnum. SEBA has now officially opened its doors for business in Switzerland.
The Zug-based bank was coy about predicting the precise number of clients it hopes to onboard in the first wave. But CEO Guido Bühler expects to open hundreds of new accounts in the first few weeks of operation, citing “huge interest” from a range of prospective customers. And not just crypto enthusiasts.
“I’ve been surprised by the number of bank customers who are looking for an alternative service,” Bühler told reporters on Tuesday. He referred to a growing disquiet to negative interest rates that is forcing some people to look for other types of investments.
In the first half of next year the bank also wants to significantly add to its CHF100 million pot of cash already raised from private investors. It plans to issue digital shares in the bank, a process known in crypto circles as a “security token offering” (STO).
Bühler said he hopes to raise well in excess of CHF100 million in this second phase of funding. In addition, he said the public offering would raise the STO bar by setting new standards of capital raising by purely digital means. But he declined to offer further explanation.
New brand of banking
Bühler, who previously held executive roles at Switzerland largest bank UBS, says SEBA will bridge the gap between the worlds of crypto and traditional banking. It will offer wealth management, trading, asset management – and cryptocurrency storage services in an old military bunker in the Swiss alps that has been converted into a high security data centre.
To begin with, clients must have at least CHF100,000 in liquid assets to open an account. For a basic fee of around CHF500 they will be provided with a credit card and digital wallet that will allow them to trade in the bitcoin, ether, stellar, litecoin, ether classic cryptocurrencies.
From next year SEBA plans to roll out its services to Singapore, Hong Kong, Britain, Italy, Germany, France, Austria, Portugal and the Netherlands.
SEBA is one of a new wave of financial institutions being set up in Switzerland that say they offer a new twist on banking services. Other companies applying for licenses include Bitcoin Suisse, Tallyon, Initium and Yapeal.