The risky world of cryptocurrency trading may soon be getting appreciably less risky—at least when cash is involved.
SFOX, a San Francisco-based cryptocurrency prime brokerage, announced today that it has partnered with the century-old, New York-based M.Y. Safra Bank to provide crypto traders who use their platform with access to bank accounts backed by FDIC insurance.
It’s the first time a crypto prime dealer offers this type of protection for crypto traders’ cash assets, according to a statement from the company. And some very high-net-worth individuals, which is whom Safra caters to, may soon feel a whole lot safer putting those big bucks into crypto.
As a cryptoasset prime dealer, SFOX connects traders who use its platform with access to all major crypto exchanges through a single pool of liquidity. Rather than depositing capital at each individual exchange they want to trade in, these investors can participate in various exchanges through a single account.
And now, “for the first time in crypto trading,” both retail and institutional investors will be able to obtain a “segregated account,” which will allow them to hold their funds in their own name with a FDIC-backed bank—rather than a commingled account on an exchange.
In doing so, the idea is that a crypto trader’s counterparty risk will be diminished, at least for the cash share of the transaction.
The move takes “SFOX trading one step closer to the goal of a truly frictionless and reliable trade experience across all cryptoassets,” SFOX CEO Akbar Thobhani said in a statement. The company claims that its model, now with added benefit of government-backed insurance for cash accounts, also makes funds more quickly available for traders, on top of being more secure.
FDIC insurance, though, isn’t without its drawbacks. While it provides bank accounts with coverage up to $250,000, it also comes with a host of regulatory strings attached. Notably, the digital asset banks that were legalized in Wyoming earlier this year are purposely avoiding FDIC insurance to escape “bullying” from the federal government over the potentially “high risk” nature of the industry.
M.Y. Safra Bank, however, doesn’t appear worried. “We continually strive to innovate in the banking industry, and SFOX was the ideal partner with which to extend this philosophy to the burgeoning domain of crypoassets,” the bank’s CEO, Jacob Sanfra, said in a statement.
SFOX is banking on the peace of mind of federal insurance to drive in institutional investors. And if it works, the risk of inviting increased scrutiny from regulators may indeed be worth the reward.