Yet the building, a former crystal factory, is now the home of Xapo Bank Gibraltar Ltd, Europe’s first physical cryptocurrency bank, and one of the forerunners of a quiet revolution in banking.
That regulators in Gibraltar and Switzerland are licensing crypto firms as fully-fledged banks, authorized to custody funds, trade, and lend on behalf of their clients, may not be so surprising. But, last week, the US banking regulator, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), joined the fray and cleared Visa-backed digital asset platform Anchorage as the first federally chartered crypto bank —paving the way for the integration of crypto assets into the mainstream economy.
The action signals a new legitimacy for cryptocurrency and accompanies growing pressure on mainstream banks, whose institutional clients are hungry to safely access the trillion-dollar crypto market . The OCC has even provided explicit reassurance that banks can hold cryptocurrencies —a service many have been none too keen to perform.
Bitcoin Custodian Xapo Set to Receive Banking License in Gibraltar
As the new crypto banks prepare to build out a brave, new banking landscape, Decrypt spoke to Anchorage, crypto exchange Kraken, and others embarking on this venture.
The first federally chartered crypto bank
The federal trust charter Anchorage has received covers all the services it currently offers to its institutional clients: custody, training, financing, lending, borrowing, and governance of crypto assets.
But it also gives the firm the flexibility to operate under just one regulator, the OCC, rather than the differing laws governing cryptocurrencies that exist at state level. No longer is the startup at a disadvantage compared to their clients, who are often other banks.
Anchorage cofounder and president Diogo Monica. Image: Anchorage.
“There’s never been a higher watermark than a federally chartered bank,” Anchorage cofounder and president Diogo Monica told Decrypt . “There are other regulatory regimes in which crypto has been either condoned or crystallized in the form of a specific charter. But in the US, that had not been the case. And, given that it's the world's largest economy, this is a huge step for everyone.”
"Crypto deserves a bank, and we are immensely proud of being approved as the one to set the standard." - @diogomonica and @nathanmccauley
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