Cryptocurrencies are coming to Volks- and Raiffeisenbanken!

Last Updated: 27. November 2023By

At the beginning of November, the DZ Bank, as the umbrella institution of cooperative banks in Germany, announced that private customers can now invest directly in cryptocurrencies. This possibility falls on fruitful ground among the members of the cooperative banks in Germany. The cooperative association reports that already about half of the Volks- and Raiffeisenbanken in the association area want to deal with the topic.

45% of the banks reported in a survey conducted between July 20th and August 11th, 2023, that they want to deal with the implementation of the new solutions for trading in cryptocurrencies within two years as soon as they are technically available. 26% even wanted to do this soon or within one year.

This included mainly the largest houses with more than 2.5 billion euros in balance sheet total. 9% of the member banks assumed a time horizon of more than two years. Each Volks- or Raiffeisenbank makes its own decision with regard to whether it provides such services. The cooperative association wants to enable an active discussion and informed decisions.

The greatest benefit of a crypto offering, according to the Volks- and Raiffeisenbanken survey, was “future viability” (53%) and “competence assumption from the customer’s point of view” (52%). Trading in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Ethereum is only one of many potential new fields of business. The underlying blockchain technology offers additional opportunities for the further development and realignment of processes and services, according to the forecast of the cooperative association.

The EU regulation lays the foundations for the new crypto business fields of the banks The European Parliament adopted the MiCA Regulation of the EU (“Markets in Crypto Assets”) to revise the EU Money Transfer Regulation for the first time on April 20, 2023, thus creating a uniform legal framework for crypto assets. The trade is to become more transparent and thus better traceable. Minimum capital requirements are also specified for providers of crypto assets such as Bitcoin or Ethereum: issuers of crypto tokens in the EU must have a minimum level of liquidity and a seat in the EU, as well as offer a redemption claim for customers. A MiCA permit and increased requirements are required if certain thresholds are reached.

The issue of new tokens must be stopped if a token threatens to become a generally accepted means of payment. The regulation has not yet come into full force. Some provisions on asset-referenced crypto assets and money tokens (so-called stablecoins) are expected to apply from July 2024, while the majority of the MiCA Regulation will not take effect until the beginning of 2025. The DZ BANK’s technical platform will enable bank customers to trade in cryptocurrencies as part of their business relationship, as they are used to from securities.

There is a need for legal, technical and technical support In the cooperative association’s survey, the Volks- and Raiffeisenbanken signaled a wide range of information and support needs: especially for legal security (70%), professional know-how/competence (68%) and technical infrastructure (65%) the need was rated as „very high“ or „high“. More than half also saw corresponding needs for organizational concepts as well as for marketing/marketing.

The cooperative association already offers a range of services through its AWADO law firm and the GenoAcademy to accompany the banks in exploiting the new possibilities. In addition to clarifying supervisory and banking law questions around the topic of cryptocurrencies and blockchain, the focus is currently on training and individual legal accompaniment for the bank’s internal new introduction.

The cooperative association will develop further concrete offers to sustainably support its members in the sense of its mission of promotion. These include in particular the determination of market potentials as well as the concrete definition of initial operational steps. A total of 302 Volksbanken and Raiffeisenbanken in the cooperative association took part in the online survey.

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