Swiss bank UBS seeks to offer crypto investments to its rich clients: Sources

By Amirtha P S, Desk Reporter
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UBS Group, the global multinational investment bank, is reportedly in early-stage discussions to offer wealthy customers digital currency investments, following US firms to give broader access in response to client demand.

The Switzerland-based financial service provider is exploring several alternatives for offering the asset class, according to people familiar with the plan who declined to be identified as the details are private.

Any investment offering would be a very small portion of the clients’ total wealth because of the volatility, while options include investing through third-party investment vehicles, one of the sources said.

“We are monitoring the developments in the field of digital assets closely. Importantly, we are most interested in the technology which underpins digital assets, namely the distributed ledger technology,” UBS said in a statement.

More global securities firms are offering cryptocurrency services, including Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Bank of New York Mellon Corp and Citigroup.

The cryptocurrency supporters have argued that the investors are getting more comfortable with a variety of tokens, while critics say the sector may be in a bubble. UBS is concerned that it may lose clients if it doesn’t offer the investment to its wealthy clients, the people said.

Last week, Switzerland-headquartered private banking company, Julius Baer Group’s CEO Philipp Rickenbacher said that the firm was looking at working with partners to offer clients access to crypto-assets, though for now, it doesn’t plan to execute its Bitcoin-related transactions.

UBS Chief Executive Officer Ralph Hamers is currently seeking to cut costs and digitize operations, including the high-touch business of serving the world’s wealthiest. The bank spends approximately $3.5 billion per year on technology to maintain and modernize its existing infrastructure and innovate new tools for employees and products for clients.

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