Institutional Innovation: Q&A With SEBA Bank CEO Franz M. Bergmüller

Franz M. Bergmüller, CEO of SEBA Bank, speaks to Global Finance about the bank’s drive for innovation and what sets it apart from its competition.

Global Finance: After so many years at the forefront of innovation, what continues to drive your innovative spirit?

Franz M. Bergmüller: The Digital Asset industry is still a young industry, but an emerging one. The size of the digital asset market opportunity is significant. The World Economic Forum estimates that up to 10% of global GDP will be stored and transacted via distributed ledger technology by 2027–tokenized markets could potentially be worth as much as $24 trillion by 2027. Digital assets are here to stay, and thus a regulated bank like SEBA, with the core competence in digital assets, is the preferred partner for traditional investors as well as crypto natives.

Beyond the growth of digital assets, we believe blockchain as a technology has potential to fundamentally reshape financial infrastructure. We believe that we have a key role, as both an innovator and regulated counterparty, in driving forward this digital transformation of finance.

GF: What makes you different from your competitors?

Bergmüller: SEBA Bank is one of the only FINMA licensed banking and securities dealers with a core capability in digital assets. As such, we operate as a trusted and regulated counterparty to institutional investors in the digital assets industry.

In addition, SEBA Bank provides a number of bespoke services in digital assets which are not offered by competitors including: fiat banking for crypto natives; secure custody and storage in a fully regulated environment; very competitive trading; a unique gold token enabling investors to own a digital form of physical gold via a fully regulated, cost-effective, and future-proof solution; our tracker certificates; our award-winning index, SEBAX; soon to come, a Metaverse index, and, last but not least, discretionary mandates for asset managers and other banks.

To complement our full-suite service offering, SEBA Bank is deeply integrated with a variety of significant stakeholders in financial services in Europe and beyond, including Julius Baer and LGT. By working closely with this network of key strategic partners, SEBA Bank is moving towards its goal of driving forward the digital transformation of finance, granting secure access to an emerging asset class.

GF: What are the main challenges and pain points currently facing your market and clients; and how are you addressing these?

Bergmüller: Institutional engagement and adoption of digital assets have been limited due to the lack of trustworthy counterparties available in the market. SEBA Bank resolves this issue for both traditional investors and crypto natives by acting as the institutional gateway to the digital asset economy, providing a secure, institutional-grade, universal suite of regulated banking services for the new digital economy.

SEBA Bank provides services to qualified investors including banks, securities dealers, fund management companies, asset managers, companies with professional treasury departments, and high-net-worth individuals.

We also provide fiat-crypto banking services to crypto-savvy investors, crypto funds and asset managers, and crypto exchanges. We enable crypto-savvy individuals and institutions to access regulated banking services, supporting their financing needs.

SEBA Bank’s proprietary Digital Asset Technology Integration Layer offers a central hub for managing a range of digital asset banking and investment services. These include investment services such as: crypto structured products such as SEBAX, an award-winning Select Crypto Asset Index Tracker, actively managed certificates, and discretionary mandates; and a fully integrated trading and credit platform including crypto-fiat trading, margin trading, short-selling, derivatives and asset-collateralized loans.

GF: What strategic developments within SEBA will ensure your continued success amid risky market conditions?

Bergmüller: SEBA Bank is at the forefront of innovation in digital assets and will continue to shape institutional engagement with the asset class. In January this year, we closed a CHF 110M Series C funding round, enabling us to further accelerate our considerable international growth, as well as drive the development of our product offering and technology. Currently, we support more than 25 markets globally, having strengthened our presence in APAC. And in February, we received a financial services license in Abu Dhabi enabling us to provide regulated services in the country, with a physical office opened in the emirate to address client demand.

Despite the volatility of the sector, the company continues to make significant progress in bridging traditional and digital finance, and recently partnered with one of the world’s largest family-owned private banks and asset management firms, LGT Bank, to provide crypto custody and trading services.