The US crypto industry has a new favorite banking partner, a small Pennsylvania-based called Customers Bank.
According to a Bloomberg article citing sources familiar with the matter, the bank is partnered with hundreds of crypto companies, with a wave of new clients coming in after the collapse of crypto-friendly banks Silvergate Capital and Signature Bank earlier in the year.
Customers Bank offers a platform that enables 24/7 payments for its crypto clients called Customers Bank Instant Token (CBIT), similar to Silvergate Capital’s highly popular but now shuttered Silvergate Exchange Network (SEN) payments platform.
“With Signature and Silvergate basically shutting their doors, these balances had to go somewhere,” Frank Schiraldi, an analyst at Piper Sandler, said.
Customers Bank “really seems to be the last man standing”.
As per sources familiar with the matter, staff at Customers Bank were working around the clock earlier this year to onboard new clients amid the exodus from Silvergate and Signature Bank.
Customers Bank Playing Down Crypto Links as Regulators Tighten Screws on Industry
Though Customers Bank has partnered with a wave of new crypto firms, it appears reluctant to promote itself as the crypto industry’s number one new banking partner.
Deposits on its CBIT platform for crypto clients are limited to no more than 15% of it’s the bank’s total balance sheet.
According to Bloomberg, CBIT deposits were around $2.25 billion at the end of Q1 2023, accounting for around 13% of the bank’s total deposits.
Meanwhile, the bank recently removed a page on its website promoting its crypto business and management have stopped touting crypto partnerships in earnings calls.
Bank representatives have said that, of the wave of new deposits the bank attracted after the Silvergate/Signature bank collapses earlier this year, only a small portion were from new CBIT clients.
According to the bank’s CEO Sam Sidhu, the biggest drivers of deposits in the last three months have been from the finance, tech and venture capital sectors.
Customers Bank’s reluctance to openly embrace its increasingly pro-crypto stance is understandable in light of the toxic regulatory atmosphere surrounding the crypto industry at the moment.
The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is going after some of the industry’s biggest players, such as Coinbase and Binance, for allegedly operating as unlicensed securities exchanges, amongst other charges.
And bank industry regulators warned US banks earlier this year about the risks of doing business with the crypto sector.
“Banking regulators will be looking at how well (Customers Bank) is controlling the risk,” and asking whether “they have the sophistication and the strong control to understand the risk of a particular crypto business”, former SEC/Treasury Department enforcer and partner at consulting company Guidehouse Alma Angotti said.