The secure crypto storage JV is between Gazprom's banking division Gazprombank and fintech firm Avaloq and crypto custody specialist Metaco. Photo: AFP

The banking division of Russian energy giant Gazprom is aiming to provide crypto custody services to institutional investors next year.

Gazprombank says it will be working with fintech firm Avaloq and crypto custody specialist Metaco. The Swiss-based bank aims to provide other banks and wealth managers with a “fully integrated solution for the management of client portfolios across all asset classes including crypto-currencies.” The services are expected to be launched in mid-2019.

Metaco already offers crypto wallets and storage solutions and Avaloq has a banking suite which will be married up enabling Gazprombank to offer the complete package. The offering will enable crypto transactions to be carried out as seamlessly as traditional fiat currency transactions. The platform will integrate both digital and regular currencies enabling trading without the need to set up crypto wallets or deal with encryption keys.

According to Metaco, its hardware provides military grade storage solutions for crypto wallets and private keys. Metaco founder and CEO Adrien Treccani said its partnership with Avaloq was a step toward seeing “mainstream use of crypto-currencies and crypto assets and their integration into a banking and wealth management proposition.”

Thomas Beck, the Group CTO at Avaloq, added that, for both institutions and bank clients, “trust is key. Avaloq and Metaco have considered this for the development of a fully integrated solution that can be offered to clients by their trusted bank.”

Being based in Switzerland grants Gazprombank greater freedom to offer crypto-currency products that may be frowned upon by the Russian government. Switzerland has positioned itself as a hub of crypto and blockchain innovation due to its crypto-friendly policies.

Crypto custody is becoming big business for many financial institutions as securely storing digital assets has come under scrutiny recently with a number of high profile exchange hacks. Wall Street banking giant Goldman Sachs also recognizes the importance of crypto custody services. According to a Bloomberg report, the bank’s head of digital asset markets told reporters last month that custody was essential to offering any crypto-related products.

He also added that the cooling off of the rampant speculation in crypto-currency markets was actually a good thing for the ecosystem.

The focus, at least for mainstream financial institutions, is moving towards security and storage and away from crypto trading and speculation.

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