The new law implemented by the Fourth European Union (EU) Money Laundering Directive will allow banks in Germany to sell and guard crypto assets from 2020, according to a report published by local business newspaper Handelsblatt.
The bill has already been successfully passed by the Bundestag, the German federal parliament, and is expected to be signed by the 16 states of the nation, from which support is expected.
Banks in Germany will offer crypto assets
Banks were originally prohibited from offering direct access to crypto assets and acting as their custodians. Now the new law is changing the status quo.
According to Handelsblatt, an initial draft of the bill included a separation clause that forced banks to resort to external cryptocurrency custodians. Now, the latest version of the law eliminates this reality, which will rationalize the operations related to cryptocurrencies in banks, as described by the German media.
Beginning in 2020, financial institutions will be able to offer cryptocurrencies to their online banking customers, practically at the press of a button, along with classic values such as stocks and bonds.
Germany as a possible crypto paradise
Sven Hildebrandt, head of the consulting firm DLC, welcomed the news and told Handselblatt:
“Germany is on its way to becoming a cryptocurrency paradise. The German legislator is playing a pioneering role in cryptocurrency regulation.”
The German banking association BdB was also positive about the legislation.
“Credit institutions have experience in the custody of customer assets and risk management, are committed to investor protection and have always been controlled by financial supervision.
Banks could effectively prevent money laundering and terrorist financing with cryptocurrencies. “
The incoming bill “would allow investors to invest in crypto through funds based in Germany and not be forced to put their money abroad,” the BdB said.
Some institutions and commentators expressed concern about a perceived threat to consumer protection arising from the new law.
The Bundestag recently published a statement that determines that cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are not real money. He also cited its volatility and allegedly limited use for payments.
Also, Niels Nauhauser, a financial expert at the consumer center in Baden-Wuerttemberg, told Handselblatt:
“If banks are allowed to sell cryptocurrencies and keep them for a fee, they run the risk of converting their assets at risk of total loss to their customers, without them knowing what they are getting into.”
Collaboration between banking institutions
The Bundesverband deutscher Banken, the Association of German Banks, an important lobby that represents more than 200 financial institutions, supports the bill.
In October, the aforementioned Association published a document arguing that the European economy «needs a programmable digital euro.
In addition, it was reported in June that two political parties in Germany began promoting the adoption of Blockchain and urging the federal government to incorporate technology and a digital euro.