Swedish bank Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken AB (SEB) sponsored an article in Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet about Bitcoin. The article takes a cautious look at Bitcoin, including its strengths and weaknesses. One concern the bank has in terms of Bitcoin’s long-term appeal is its ability to fall under the purview of global regulations, while acknowledging the breakthrough that it is in payments.
SEB, a Swedish financial group for corporate customers, institutions and private individuals headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, was founded and remains controlled by the Swedish Wallenberg family.
Bitcoin needs stability, according to SEB’s chief strategist, Johan Javeus. Because Bitcoin has not been under the purview of a central bank, it exists “outside all systems,” writes SEB. Considering global regulations to tax and oversee Bitcoin, however, as well as high profile court trials, it is clear to see Bitcoin is, in fact, not outside “all systems,” but rather has already been embedded in the culture around it.
“The number of bitcoins available is in theory limited to about 21 million coins,” writes the bank in the sponsored content. “The essence of the currency’s popularity is that it is anonymous and untraceable. It can also be one of the biggest disadvantages of the currency’s future,” according to SEB’s chief strategist Johan Javeus. Central to SEB’s complaints about Bitcoin is that it does not have a central authority.
“To use a currency to buy goods and services, you must be able to trust that the currency keeps its value. Bitcoin has been subject to enormous fluctuations, up and down,” reads the feature. “It is important not least for enforcement authorities, so that the currency is not used for money laundering or drug deals.”
Bitcoin does have upsides, according to the bank, in particularly that it has simplified making value transfers online. It still takes a few days to send money in mainstream banking system, the bank admits.
While many Bitcoiners have seen the article as negative, the article does not come across as overtly negative in my opinion. Among chief concerns for the bank is uncertainty over whether Know Your Customer and Anti-Money Laundering policies can be enforced with Bitcoin.
The Wallenberg family, which owns SEB, is a Swedish familial financial dynasty of bankers, industrialists, politicians, bureaucrats, diplomats and philanthropists. With a very low-key public profile, The Wallenberg family motto is “Esse non Videri” (Latin for, “To be, not to be seen”).
SEB was founded 160 years ago, and, according to the bank’s website, has “played an active part in the development of the societies and markets in which we operate.”
“We maintain resilience and flexibility in order to adapt operations to the prevailing market conditions. Financial strength is built upon cost and capital efficiency,” the bank states.
Sweden has not been the most hands-0ff when it comes to Bitcoin regulations and taxes, yet the country is home to an active Pirate Party. As one of the countries where Bitcoin has been quasi-banned, SEB’s op-ed highlights one of the major concerns of authorities in the nations: Can Bitcoin be truly regulated under current government structures?
Updated: June 14, 2015 at 11:43 am CET.
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