One of Germany’s largest banking institutions has confirmed that it applied for a local crypto license earlier this year, marking the first time a major bank has moved into cryptocurrencies in the country.
A Commerzbank spokesperson confirmed to local news outlet Börsen-Zeitung on April 14 that it “applied for the crypto custody license in the first quarter of 2022.” If approved, it would be allowed to offer exchange services as well as custody and protection of crypto-assets.
Commerzbank serves over 18 million customers and over 70,000 institutional customers, and the cryptocurrency offering is said to target its institutional customer base.
Since January 1, 2020, any company wishing to offer cryptocurrency services in Germany must first seek approval from the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority, also known as BaFin.
Currently, only four companies have approval, but BaFin says it has over 25 pending applications from companies wishing to operate crypto custody businesses.
Coinbase Germany was the first to be approved by the regulator in June 2021, and Berlin-based fintech company Upvest was recently approved for licensing in March.
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Commerzbank was involved in blockchain projects as early as 2018 and made some of the first transactions on a distributed ledger technology (DLT) security lending platform with other major banks the following year.
Most recently, in August 2021, the company partnered to develop blockchain-based digital marketplaces for existing asset classes such as art and real estate.
Germany introduced a series of reforms, regulations and continued adoption of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies in 2021.
German investors are also keen to embrace crypto. A March report from KuCoin found that 44% of Germans are “motivated to invest in cryptocurrencies” and “37% of German crypto investors have been trading cryptocurrencies for more than a year.”