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The so-called cryptocurrency ‘renting’ program today sees SBI borrow a minimum of 0.1 Bitcoin ($1,880 at current prices) to a maximum of 5 Bitcoin (over $94,000) from users and pay them for allowing it to do so.
This is similar to how a savings account at a traditional bank operates: A customer lends out their fiat money and receives a small interest payment yearly. The bank, in turn, uses those funds for loans and other economic services.
The Bitcoin rental program is part of SBI’s new "VC Trade Lending" subsidiary, with the minimum period of lending Bitcoin set at 84 days. It will not charge customers any management or account fees for cryptocurrency deposits but shall apply a fee for Yen withdrawals.
The SBI said existing cryptocurrency lending programs have an inherent counterparty risk—such as a faulty smart contract or the counterparty facing bankruptcy and an inability to pay out funds when required.
But the bank touts a better deal, “All of our customers' lending destinations for our cryptocurrency lending service are SBI Group companies that boast high reliability, so you can use it with confidence.”
Still, the Tokyo-based financial player said the volatility of Bitcoin would remain a concern—even a potential drop of its value to zero should macro-economic trends change—and suggested caution in dealing with the new service.
Meanwhile, it added that it was currently assessing Ethereum and XRP, among others, and even testing varying time periods for fund lockups.