The German Savings Banks and Giro Association (DSGV) is putting the brakes on trading in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ether.

It is "the task of savings banks to protect customers from incalculable risks," said a spokeswoman for the association on Monday when asked at a meeting of the DSGV board.

"Therefore, the committees recommend that the institutes of the Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe not offer trading in cryptocurrencies."

Gregory Bruner

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Markus Fruehauf

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The decision to offer trading in cryptocurrencies ultimately lies with the 363 savings banks themselves (as of June 1, 2022). However, they would also have to manage the technical substructure themselves, which could be difficult without the support of the DSGV.

In mid-December it became known that the Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe was considering entering crypto trading.

In a pilot project, a team at the IT service provider S-Payment fine-tuned a concept for an offer to customers.

It was therefore planned to enable savings bank customers to buy cryptocurrencies directly via their current account.

Now, at the group level, they don't want to completely shut themselves off from current trends and new technologies.

Therefore, the committees of the group decided to introduce a digital purse, a so-called wallet, for holding, buying and selling digitized assets, so-called tokenized assets.

Tokenization is the digital representation of financial assets such as shares or real assets such as real estate on a blockchain.

Cooperatives respond to increasing demand

The Federal Association of German Volksbanken and Raiffeisenbanken (BVR) is taking a different approach.

He specifically wants to set up an offer for trading cryptocurrencies.

The BVR sees cryptocurrencies as a highly speculative investment.

"For customers of the cooperative financial group who want to invest in these highly speculative investment products, we are nevertheless providing solutions so that we do not close ourselves off to market needs," said the BVR of the Bloomberg News agency.

The leading cooperative institute DZ Bank and DWP Bank would continue their joint work.

DWP Bank, which is controlled by the savings banks and Volksbanken and is the largest securities custodian bank in Germany with 5.5 million custody accounts, is working on a solution for accounts in digital assets.

In an interview with the FAZ, Heiko Beck, CEO of DWP Bank, recently said that the crypto account should be offered to customer institutions by the end of the year.

DWP Bank's customers include 1,200 banks, savings banks and Volksbanks, i.e. three quarters of all institutes in Germany.

“The institutes report that customer funds are flowing to platforms for crypto assets such as Bitcoin.

With our solution, customers who are interested in digital assets can stay with their bank,” said Beck.

You would then not have to transfer money to a trading platform clearing account,

if they wanted to invest in crypto assets.

"With this offering, we want to be prepared for the future, when tokenization of individual assets can become more important," added Beck.

In fact, one or the other institute is already anticipating the development.

The Volksbank Raiffeisenbank Bayern Mitte, for example, advertises on its website the “Bitcoin-Go trading portal” and a range of related products.

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