Bitwala Launches Bitcoin Interest Account With up to 4.3% Annual Rate

Neobanking service provider Bitwala on Thursday introduced a new account that offers its 80,000 European customers passive bitcoin (BTC) income.

According to the Berlin-based company, account holders can buy bitcoin at Bitwala from as little as 30 euros ($32), hold it free of charge, and earn interest, which is paid out every Monday.

The Bitwala Interest Account allows users to earn up to 4.3% interest per annum for BTC held at the bank.

There are no lock-up periods, meaning that BTC holdings can be liquidated and withdrawn any time, it said.

The new account has been launched in cooperation with cryptocurrency lender Celsius Network, which lends out BTC held by Bitwala users to “trusted institutional partners.”

Celsius Network has been paying an average of 3.4% p.a. in bitcoin since November 2019, said the German bank.

Bitwala’s 4.3% rate is, however, about half of what some decentralized finance platforms with similar interest-earning accounts offer.

Ben Jones, chief executive officer of Bitwala, described bitcoin as “the gold standard for the internet of value”, emphasizing that BTC’s recent third halving is a reminder that “state money (fiat) cannot be inflated eternally.” He stated:

At this time, more and more people trust in bitcoin. Bitwala is the everyday bridge to it. We are now partnering with Celsius Network, the world’s leading provider of crypto loans, so that our customers can leverage bitcoin holdings wherever they are.

Celsius Network CEO Alex Mashinsky commented: “We think combining a bitcoin account with a bank account is a winning proposition and the path to mass adoption.”

Founded in 2018, Bitwala has customers from across 32 countries in Europe. Its accounts are hosted by Berlin-based Solarisbank, which is supervised by the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority.

Numerous neobanks, including Babb in the U.K. and Crypterium in Estonia, are planning to or are in the process of applying for licenses amid regulatory disinterest that has kept them at bay for years.

BlackRock, Goldman Sachs Veteran Joins Blockchain as General Counsel

BlackRock and Goldman Sachs veteran Howard Surloff has joined major crypto wallet provider Blockchain.com as general counsel.

Over 25 years in traditional finance

After serving over 25 years the two of the world’s largest and most respected financial institutions, Surloff will now be responsible for advancing Blockchain’s standard for legal, compliance and corporate governance within the crypto industry, the firm announced on Oct. 1.

Prior to entering the crypto industry, Surloff worked at BlackRock for 12 years, the world’s largest exchange-traded fund provider, according to his LinkedIn page. At BlackRock, Surloff was long-serving Deputy General Counsel before he was appointed as Global Chief Operating Officer of BlackRock’s iShares and Index business, with over $4.4 trillion in assets and 800 employees globally, the report notes.

Before joining BlackRock, the Wall Street veteran worked for over 12 years at Goldman Sachs, serving as Managing Director and General Counsel for the US Asset Management Division. In this capacity, he reportedly oversaw legal strategy and structuring across more than 1000 investment products.

BlackRock and Goldman Sachs in crypto

Meanwhile, both BlackRock and Goldman Sachs have expressed their interest in Bitcoin (BTC) and its underlying blockchain technology. Most recently, Goldman Sachs provided a bullish forecast for Bitcoin price in a note to customers on Aug. 11, suggesting a short-term target of $13,971. In July 2019, the company revealed its apparent intentions to set up a new crypto project by posting a job listing seeking a Digital Asset Project Manager under the aegis of the bank’s GS Accelerate in-house incubator program.

In 2018, BlackRock reportedly announced the formation of a working group to evaluate potential involvement in Bitcoin, including investments in Bitcoin futures. In August 2019, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink claimed that he does not consider Facebook’s Libra a cryptocurrency, arguing that the world does not need Libra but rather the implementation of technology.

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