In recent months, there has been hope that German savings banks will open up to trading cryptocurrencies. For several months, the crypto establishment had been discussed within the association. Now, this Monday, the decision has been made against a wallet that supports cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. Instead, you only rely on a wallet solution for tokenized securities, such as real estate bonds.
Savings banks: the belief in the analogue prevails
As credit institutions under public law, savings banks cannot and do not have to meet the innovative power of a fintech. However, they must ensure their future viability as a universal bank. The attitude of the Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe towards cryptocurrencies raises doubts about its will to innovate.
For example, the rationale of the German Savings Banks and Giro Association (DSGV) states that it is the task of savings banks to “protect customers from incalculable risks. That is why the committees recommend that the institutions of the Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe not offer trading in cryptocurrencies”. A driving force may have been, among other things, DSGV boss Helmut Schleweis, who said that he could not recommend cryptocurrencies to his customers. The president of the Bavarian savings banks, Ulrich Reuter, even goes one step further and said cryptocurrencies are similar to snowball systems, according to media reports.
Treat customers like children
The decision against cryptocurrencies shows a certain arrogance. It seems perfectly fine that savings banks offer their customers access to leverage certificates and Pennystock shares via brokerage, which quickly lead to a total loss. But Bitcoin, which has corrected less in the crisis than many tech stocks, is too risky? It seems that there are “incalculable risks” for the Savings Bank that are accepted.
Customers are treated like children who are told what they are allowed to do. No wonder that many customers do not put up with this and withdraw funds to Trade Republic or Coinbase. In full awareness, it is better to let customer funds migrate to the competition than to run the risk of getting a “crypto-dirty image”. You don’t keep young and digitally savvy customers like that.
Savings banks: like flags in the wind
The decision also shows a market-dependent opportunism. Half a year ago in the “bull market” the decision might have been different. But now that innovation values have corrected a lot and thus also their image, suddenly you don’t want to have anything to do with it anymore. Probably, a new crypto bubble or euphoria must first arise again, in which savings banks will then decide to offer crypto trading at the peak of the price rally, to the detriment of their customers, who will then burn a lot of money afterwards.
Especially in times of high inflation, alternatives to the current account and unreasonable products such as funded life insurance are needed, see Riesterrente. Selling such expensive and nonsensical financial products does not seem to be a problem for the savings banks. The sales commissions are then not too bad.
Security Tokens as a consolation
The fact that people are at least opening up to digital securities may be a consolation. However, this has nothing to do with satisfying customer needs. Hardly anyone should have asked their savings bank advisor whether there are also digital bonds to be purchased.
The situation is different with cryptocurrencies. Many customers would like to purchase them from their house bank, which they fully trust. Nothing will come of it now. Instead of doing consumer-friendly pioneering work, you increase the likelihood that inexperienced customers with a cryptic desire will end up with black sheep.