One of the largest banking institutions in Germany has confirmed that it applied for a local crypto license earlier this year, marking the first time a major bank has made a move toward cryptocurrencies in the country.
A spokesperson from Commerzbank confirmed to local media 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 authorized to offer exchange services along with custody and protection of crypto-assets.
Commerzbank serves over 18 million customers and over 70,000 institutional clients, and the cryptocurrency offering will reportedly target its institutional client base.
Since January 1, 2020, any business 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 states it has over 25 applications pending from firms wishing to operate crypto custody businesses.
Coinbase Germany was the first to be approved by the regulator in June 2021, and the Berlin-based financial technology firm Upvest was most recently approved for a license in March.
Related: ‘Let’s build a Europe where Web3 can flourish:’ Crypto companies sign an open letter to EU regulators
Commerzbank has seen involvement in blockchain projects as far back as 2018 and carried out some of the first transactions on a distributed ledger technology (DLT) security lending platform with other major banks the following year.
More recently, in August 2021, the firm partnered to develop blockchain-based digital marketplaces for existing asset classes such as art and real estate.
Germany introduced a raft of reforms, regulations and further adoption of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies in 2021.
German investors are also keen on adopting crypto. A March report by KuCoin revealed that 44% of Germans are “motivated to invest in cryptocurrencies” and “37% of German crypto investors have been trading cryptocurrencies for over a year.”