Gazprombank Swiss, a subsidiary of one of the largest banks in Russia, has tested a bitcoin transaction service (BTC) after approval by authorities from Swiss regulators.
According to the announcement on 19 November, Gazprombank will unveil its new cryptocurrency solution in collaboration with its long-standing partners such as fintech Avaloq and cryptocurrency supplier Metaco.
Roman Abdlin, CEO of Gazprombank Switzerland, said the new service is designed to carry out cryptocurrency transactions “as easily as transactions with traditional assets”, noting:
Digital assets will become increasingly important to our customers and the global economy. We are pleased to partner with leading organizations based in Switzerland to further develop the Swiss and global cryptocurrency and blockchain ecosystem.
Simultaneously with the launch of the first BTC transactions, Gazprombank Switzerland announced that it has joined OpenVASP, a large industry consortium that focuses on complying with regulations for providers of virtual assets, or VASPs.
OpenVASP was launched at the end of 2019 and is intended to help VASP comply with the so-called anti-money laundering “travel rule” imposed by the FATF. According to the announcement, Gazprombank Switzerland is the first banking institution to join OpenVASP together with large industrial companies such as the Swiss crypto broker Bitcoin Suisse and the local crypto bank Sygnum.
The latest news from Gazprombank in Switzerland came shortly after the bank received approval from the Swiss financial market authority to offer cryptocurrency storage and trading services to its institutional and corporate customers at the end of October 2020. Gazprombank Switzerland, wholly owned by the Russian Gazprombank, is preparing to launch crypto services in Switzerland at least from 2018.
Gazprombank is not the only Russian bank to test cryptocurrency and blockchain services abroad. In September 2020, Sberbank – the largest state-owned bank – joined a blockchain-based platform to finance trade in goods through its branch in Switzerland.
As Russian banks rush to launch crypto services abroad, Russian lawmakers continue to impose further restrictions on the crypto industry. In addition to officially banning cryptocurrency payments in 2021, Russian authorities are also demanding jail for failing to report $ 600,000 in annual cryptocurrency transactions.