GENEVA, Aug. 26 (Xinhua) -- The Swiss financial regulator on Monday said it has for the first time awarded banking and securities dealer licenses to two new crypto banks which use digital assets.
The Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) said in a statement it had issued banking and securities dealers' licenses to two "pure-play blockchain service providers".
The companies involved are SEBA Crypto AG registered in Zug, and Sygnum AG registered in Zurich, which FINMA said will offer services for institutional and professional customers.
"FINMA recognizes the innovative potential of new technologies for the financial industry. It applies the relevant provisions of financial market law in a technology-neutral way," the regulator said in a statement.
However, FINMA said that blockchain-based business models could not be allowed to circumvent the existing regulatory framework, a fear that has been expressed about cryptocurrencies.
"This applies particularly to the rules for combating money laundering and terrorist financing, where the inherent anonymity of blockchain technology presents increased risks," said Finma.
Swissinfo, the website of the international service of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, described the move as "a major milestone for the fledgling industry."
FINMA said that on June 21, the international body developing policies to combat money laundering, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), issued guidance on financial services in the context of blockchain technology.
The financial regulator said that it has consistently applied the Anti-Money Laundering Act to blockchain service providers since their emergence.
"In its guidance published today, FINMA provides information about this technology-neutral application of the regulation to payment transactions on the blockchain," the regulator said.