Fernando Alberca | Retail customers of hundreds of US banks will soon be able to buy, hold and sell bitcoins directly through their existing accounts at those banks, according to business news outlet CNBC. This will be made possible by a deal between cryptocurrency custody firm New Digital Investment Group (NYDIG) and financial technology giant Fidelity National Information Services (FIS). It will allow US banks to offer cryptocurrency trading and custody services to their customers.
According to US broadcaster CNBC, hundreds of banks have already expressed interest in participating in the initiative. Most of the financial institutions that have accepted the services of NYDIG and FIS are retail banks aiming to “generate revenue from cryptocurrency trading fees, and attract and retain customers.”
NYDIG president Yan Zhao said that “banks solicit bitcoins because they can see that their customers send significant amounts of money to exchange platforms such as Coinbase or Binance.”
Zhao noted that everyone with a bank account will soon be able to buy bitcoin, even with a single dollar.
This new step by small banks could put pressure on financial giants such as Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, which just offer cryptocurrency custody services to high-net-worth clients, “to turn their attention to retailers,” said Rob Lee, director of digital banking at FIS. Lee also flagged that demand for bitcoin as a store of value is growing.
In mid-March 2021, Morgan Stanley was the first of the large banks to offer bitcoin funds to its wealthiest clients. Two weeks later, Goldman Sachs imitated its competitor. And now JP Morgan is looking at its own product together with NYDIG.
In all these cases, the big banks offer bitcoin trading and custody services exclusively to clients and family offices with multi-million dollar assets.
“Most people can’t invest in things that rich people can invest in,” Zhao said. “With bitcoin available through your bank to be purchased with as little as a dollar, anyone will have the ability to buy this very attractive asset in any amount. We think that’s huge for people’s economic empowerment.”
Other cryptocurrency-related services
Meanwhile, NYDIG and FIS are exploring the possibility of offering bank customers other services such as a debit or credit card that gives back in bitcoin a percentage of purchases made with the card on any goods or services. In reality, this would not be something very new, since this service is already offered, for example, by Binance. In fact, its customers can apply for a VISA card which returns up to 8% of all purchases made with the card in cryptocurrency, completely free of charge