New York’s Five Star Bank and California's UNIFY Financial Credit Union are the first U.S. institutions to offer bitcoin trading through a platform from Austin-based Q2 Holdings and New York Digital Investment Group (NYDIG).
Through the so-called Q2 Digital Banking Platform, people will be able to use each bank's branded desktop or mobile banking app to buy, sell or hold bitcoin while also seeing their bitcoin balance alongside their fiat accounts. The interface also includes up to 10 educational tabs explaining more about Bitcoin and blockchain, said Jonathan Price, Q2's executive vice president, emerging businesses, corporate & business development in an email to The Block.
"We have a robust pipeline of customers — the interest level is very high," Price said. "We have several customers now in our early adaptor phase with an additional wave of financial institutions planning to deploy by end of the year."
Price noted that by early 2022, the offering will be available to at least 450 banks and credit unions using Q2's digital banking platform.
The announcement marks what seems to be an emerging trend of banks announcing the option to trade or use cryptocurrencies. For example, Brazilian investment bank BTG Pactual announced in September that it is close to launching a new platform called Mynt for trading bitcoin and ether, which will be available via its apps for investing and digital banking. NYDIG also announced in June that it would partner with NCR Corporation so that 650 banks and credit unions can offer bitcoin purchases.
According to NYDIG, the firm's research findings point to more than 20% of U.S. adults owning bitcoin, with more than 80% of those people having an interest in storing it via their go-to bank or credit union if given the opportunity.
“With market and consumer trends evolving, increasing numbers of consumers are seeking easy, secure access to Bitcoin from sources they trust,” Five Star Bank’s chief administrative officer Sean Willett said in a press release.
Five Star Bank describes itself as a “$5 billion community bank” with about 50 locations, and UNIFY Financial Credit Union has more than $3 billion in assets and branches in several U.S. states.