Cryptocurrency custody services are all the rage right now, with Coinbase recently launching its own offering for institutional investors. Next it will be the turn of South Koreans to lock down their digital assets thanks to the invervention of Shinhan Bank. As one of the country’s largest financial institutions, Shinhan Bank’s foray into the fray is further evidence of mainstream bitcoin adoption in South Korea. It’s also good news for customers who want to invest in cryptocurrency but don’t relish the responsibility of looking after it.
Korea’s First Ever Bank Wants Your Bitcoin
Since its inception in 1897, then under the name of Hanseong Bank, Korea’s Shinhan Bank has grown to become a behemoth. In 2016 it reported total assets of US $192 billion and over 13,000 employees. As the country’s Naver website reports, Shinhan Bank is poised to open its vault to cryptocurrency holders, who are invited to trial Banknote, its new virtual money deposit service.
The bank began work on the service earlier this year, and the project will soon be ready to launch. Its aim is to provide a deposit service for ‘virtual money’ – i.e bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies – that combines the benefits of digital currency with the security of a traditional bank. While many experienced bitcoiners prefer to hold onto their private keys, in the knowledge that no third party can access their wallet, not everyone feels the same way.
Zero Fee Storage
To entice customers into signing up for the service, Shinhan Bank is offering zero fees for deposits and storage initially, followed by a small fee upon withdrawal. The bank is setting up a test server to demonstrate how the service will work before rolling out a full release complete with a mobile app that will contain a dashboard for viewing stats and deposit information. With 30,000 customers of Korea’s major Bithumb exchange having their personal details leaked in June, there’s certainly an appetite for an alternative means of storing digital assets.
For bitcoin holders who don’t want the responsibility of storing keys, for fear they may lose or misplace them (or even be held to ransom for them) a custody service – especially one backed by a robust financial institution – seems a safe bet. The irony of such services springing up, of course, is that it provides further evidence of bitcoin being embraced by the banking sector it was meant to supplant.
In bitcoin’s genesis block, mined by Satoshi in 2009, the following Times headline was famously included: “Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks”. Bitcoin arguably started out as a bank killer. Now it’s turning into a bank booster.