The future belongs to cryptos, its bank is called Sygnum

For Mathias Imbach, of Sygnum Bank, the dual Swiss and Singaporean identity of the crypto bank places it in a position of leader in the finance of the future.

Launched in 2018, Sygnum Bank advances its pawns to become the world reference bank in the world of cryptos: Swiss banking license, Singapore Capital Market Services license, partnership with Deutsche Börse in 2019, new Series B fundraising in early 2022 … The two-headed group, with a head office in Zurich and one in Singapore, more than doubled its assets under management in 2021 to post today 2 billion dollars and more than 1,100 professional and institutional clients. The current industry crisis? Mathias Imbach sees in this proof of confirmation that it is an asset class in its own right destined for a great future, which the bank he created will write. Interview with Mathias Imbach, co-founder and CEO of Sygnum Bank.

What makes Sygnum different from a traditional bank?

The fact that Sygnum is active in the field of crypto assets in no way exempts it from the obligations and duties of a bank registered in Switzerland. In concrete terms, we are under the authority of Finma and meet the same capital, compliance and governance conditions as any Swiss bank. Note that our clients’ accounts are segregated from the bank’s assets. The client therefore has no counterparty risk vis-à-vis Sygnum. This sets us apart from many crypto brokers and exchanges. The main difference lies in our technology stack: we can take advantage of the advantages of a public blockchain like Ethereum for example to allow the almost instantaneous settlement of transactions. We are also “cloud first” and leverage the latest technologies to create value for our customers. In this sense, we can be considered as a technology group specializing in digital assets backed by its own bank.

So you offer the same services as a traditional bank to its customers?

Sygnum’s more than 1,100 clients, institutional or accredited banking clients, have access to a range of corporate banking services, accounts (fiat) and custody of securities (cryptocurrencies, stablecoins, tokens), trading 24/24 and 7/7, Lombard loans with crypto collateral or a range of asset management products and tokenization services including a regulated secondary market. Some of our products are listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange and in Germany. We have also developed the “BtoB banking” platform, which allows around ten partner banks to offer our services to their own customers, thus a solution for those who wish to diversify their portfolio by adding crpytos assets.

Our clients are professionals from banks as well as wealth managers and crypto asset managers, family offices or founders of the main crypto foundations. They not only benefit from the full range of advantages of a traditional bank applied to the field of crypto assets – such as capital requirements protecting client assets, regulated services, a “bank-grade” level of security or governance of quality, but also first-hand access to innovative new products and DEFI markets – which you can expect from a technology group specializing in digital assets.

Geneva offers a rich pool of potential partners for Sygnum.

What precisely differentiates you from these actors, banks and platforms, active in the field of crypto assets?

Very few of them are regulated, so they do not offer the necessary guarantees to convince financial professionals, even less institutional investors, in particular in the field of risk management and compliance. Moreover, they do not mobilize the same resources as us to fulfill a mission that is particularly important to us in terms of education through the provision of materials developed by our research teams.
Only SEBA, another Swiss bank – not by chance, Switzerland offering the best environment for the development of the crypto asset industry – is more or less comparable to Sygnum. that is to say presenting at the same time a banking license, an international profile and an integrated vertical model.

What about traditional banks, do you think they can become competitors?

Some perhaps, the biggest private banks in particular, who will prefer to develop their own platform for their clients. They are today hampered in this ambition, sometimes real, by reluctant boards of directors, generation gap obliges. The smaller banks, to which we are already close, will choose the partnership, Geneva offers a rich pool of potential partners for Sygnum.

The crypto asset market has collapsed in recent weeks, yet your AuMs have continued to grow, how do you explain this?

This is the strength of our business model, which is based on a wide variety of revenue sources. Concretely, the recent period, the month of May in particular, saw trading activity break all previous records, which allowed us to more than compensate for the loss caused by the fall in the prices of the main tokens, BTC and ETH. .

What do you answer to those, or those, who bury cryptos, as they are purely speculative and non-perennial assets?

One can deplore that these critical voices often have few arguments to support their thesis, otherwise I would respect them. If it is a question of building on the current crisis, it seems fair to me to put it in perspective of a general crisis of risky assets, and not specific to cryptos. On the contrary, I think cryptos have become much more resilient over the past decade. In other words, if this crisis had occurred in 2012, when I entered this nascent industry, I am not sure that it would have resisted. Today, cryptos prove that they are an asset class in their own right, affected like all others by central bank responses to inflationary pressures.

How do you see Sygnum in this industry?

Our positioning based on a dual identity, Swiss and Singaporean, predisposes us to become a world leader. With our Swiss license, we are very well placed to serve Europe, while our Singaporean CMS (Capital Markets Services) license, recently extended to new activities (in particular corporate finance advice and the provision of accounts and trading solutions to institutional investors) puts us in a unique position to serve the Asian markets.

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The future belongs to cryptos, its bank is called Sygnum


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