France’s third-biggest bank approved to operate digital asset services

Société Générale, a French banking giant with more than $1.4 trillion in total assets, quietly secured approval from the country’s regulator for cryptocurrency custody and trading services.

Founded in 1864, French Société Générale is one of the largest financial institutions in the world, ranking third in terms of market cap in France and sixth in Europe. Now, it turns out that this TradFi giant is leaning into crypto amid the bear market, responding to increased demand from investors.

The bank’s fully integrated blockchain-focused subsidiary, Société Générale Forge, gained approval to operate as a digital asset service provider in France last month. Upon receiving a green light from the country’s financial regulator, Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF), SG Forge can now offer customers buying, selling, and custody of digital assets. However, it has yet to register for operating a trading platform.

Société Générale’s crypto division was established in 2018 as one of 60 internal startups created within the bank’s structure. Since then, it has already participated in a number of high-profile crypto ventures, including partnerships with Tezos and ConsenSys to pilot its version of CBDC. Previously, SG Forge was selected by the Banque de France as one of eight potential partners for the launch of the digital euro, as France aims to become the first EU country to issue CBDC, mainly for the benefits of cheap interbank settlements.

Moreover, SG Forge was involved in the process of issuing $121 million worth of two-year digital bonds on the Ethereum blockchain, along with Banco Santander and Goldman Sachs. And most recently, SG Forge partnered with Swiss infrastructure and custody provider Metaco to further expand the integration of security tokens into traditional finance.

Société Générale becomes the latest in a string of companies to obtain digital asset service provider (DASP) registration in France, joining the likes of Crypto.com, Bitpanda, Luno, and Binance, as the country is eying to become a blockchain hub of Europe. Meanwhile, more traditional French banks, including Crédit Agricole and BNP Paribas, are entering the crypto industry, heating up France’s crypto market.

Previously, many French crypto venture capital firms struggled to find regulated custody for their digital assets, which would put them in a gray zone of financial market activities. Now, as Société Générale secures approval from AMF, many investors and VCs may opt for custody solutions offered by a legacy financial institution.