Banca Generali, Italy’s biggest private bank, will be the nation’s first bank to offer direct crypto purchases to its clients.
Italy is a country that does not pop up too often when cryptocurrencies are involved. Despite a bloated and inefficient public sector, the country boasts a fairly stable, if not particularly modern, economy without a big tech sector.
However, interest in cryptocurrencies does not stop at borders, and Italy’s top private bank Banca Generali was the first to cave to the demand of its clients to offer Bitcoin purchases. Through the bank’s partnership with cryptocurrency platform Conio, which will be integrated into Banca Generali’s Home Bank application, private clients will be able to buy and sell custodied Bitcoin from the comfort of their banking app. Prior to that, clients have already been able to custody their coins with Banca Generali, thanks to a $19 million AUD purchase of Conio in December 2020. According to Riccardo Renna, the bank’s COO, integration with the Conio platform will be completed in 2022:
“Once the integration is complete, clients will be able to interact safely with an asset class that could be extremely risky if approached incorrectly.”
He also noted that the addition of Bitcoin was the first step of the bank’s larger plan to provide clients with innovative services. Thanks to a multi-signature system that ensures the safety of the deposited coins, Banca Generali will be able to provide wallet recovery if needed.
The bank is part of the Generali Group and is known as the best private bank in Italy, catering to many high net worth individuals.
Banks slowly warming up to crypto
That was the second notable crypto-related event in the last few weeks, not long after Floki Inu, a dog-themed meme coin, featured on the back of the jerseys of SSC Napoli, one of Italy’s top football clubs.
But the bigger story here is that even in a country that is somewhat slow to adopt technological and financial innovation — Italy has some of the highest usage rates of cash in Western Europe — banks are opening up to cryptocurrencies.
Of course, other countries are far ahead of Italy in that regard: El Salvador has famously made Bitcoin legal tender and its largest bank has partnered with Flexa to offer Bitcoin payments. Not too long ago, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia also pivoted towards crypto by starting to offer crypto services through its banking app. Banks are feeling like missing out on crypto is the bigger risk than being wrong on the technology.
You may not hear many more crypto news stories from Italy in the future, but you sure will hear a lot more banks adopting crypto.