The large Spanish bank has been one of the first to see the potential and future adoption of Bitcoin. Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA) has already opened its Bitcoin custody services, acting as a bank that also offers cryptocurrencies. Currently, it will expand its custody services as it seeks to adopt Ethereum while it intends to expand these services to other countries, including Spain.
According to statements by various BBVA leaders related to BBVA’s crypto-asset services, the Basque bank has set objectives in which the expansion of its crypto services will expand both in the number of cryptocurrencies covered as well as in the number of countries where it will be possible to interact with its services.
December 9, 2020, marked the date that BBVA launched its Bitcoin custody and trading service. This historic milestone placed one of the largest banks in Spain and Latin America as the first Spanish bank to launch a cryptocurrency custody service, creating the possibility that Spanish banks could follow in their wake and offer services related to Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies.
Regulation as the main stumbling block for the adoption of Bitcoin for institutional investments
It is true that this launch has a trick, the bank of Biscayan origin would offer this service from its international branch based in Switzerland. The reasons for this are obvious, the Swiss regulation offers an appropriate legal framework. Carlos Torres, the CEO and president of BBVA, commented that the entity plans to extend cryptocurrency management services in other countries, including Spain, depending on the positioning of Europe.
Alicia Pertusa, head of strategy at Client Solutions BBVA, highlighted that the bank works in line with the regulatory authorities and expects the MiCA regulations of the European Union to come into force in the next 12 to 18 months. According to Pertusa, BBVA must take short but firm steps since “whenever we launch the service it is important that there is a guarantee that it complies with all regulations”, especially in a new and unregulated market.
Investor demand for Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies is palpable, Alfonso Gómez, CEO of the banking institution, declared the following already in June 2021:
“This gradual deployment has allowed BBVA Switzerland to test the operation of the service, reinforce security and, above all, detect that there is a significant desire among investors for crypto or digital assets as a way to diversify their portfolios, despite their volatility and high risk. “
The demand is existing, however for now the regulation seems to be the entry barrier as Michael Gebert, president of the European Blockchain Association, commented to BeInCrypto:
“We just spoke with large mutual funds that manage billions of euros and have a very strict policy on where to allocate their funds. They indicated that with a new regulation with a secure framework they could immediately allocate a certain percentage in allocations in products related to cryptocurrencies or the cryptocurrency itself. “
The next BBVA update will support Ethereum
BBVA is finalizing an update that will allow it to operate with Ethereum, a wide entry point for all types of tokens.
According to Pertusa, the entity does not seek “they are just one more format, but the underlying blockchain technology can be used in many types of products and services, as well as to make processes more efficient”.
Ethereum houses in its ecosystem an infinity of types of tokens such as non-fungible tokens (NFT), a good part of decentralized finance (DeFi) and many more.
BBVA’s plans are ambitious since it was commented that the bank plans to offer stock management services, tokenized bonds or even to guard the future CBDCs, Pertusa declared:
“We can guard everything”
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