Sygnum Bank: Our response to COVID-19
The global impact of COVID-19
Uncertainty – breaking in waves
The novel coronavirus COVID-19 was designated as a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on March 11, 2020, with the outbreak spreading exponentially in the communities of 203 countries and rising. Healthcare systems are being overwhelmed, and governments around the world have raced to contain its spread. Organisations of all kinds, including Sygnum, are putting their staff welfare first by enabling them to work remotely.
The asynchronous nature of the pandemic, coming as it does in waves, has generated significant global uncertainty. Thought to have originated in December 2019 in Wuhan, China, COVID-19 has rapidly spread to its Asian neighbours, Europe, Africa and now the US – unlike the Asian SARS pandemic and the middle-eastern MERS coronavirus, COVID-19 is truly global.
Financial impact triggering a global response The outbreak has affected global markets significantly; equities, bonds and commodities are being sold-off to boost cash positions and create buffers against the deteriorating economic situation. The circumstances differ markedly from the 2008 financial crisis by the way it is impacting both sides of the economy. Disruptions in production and supply chains has lowered supply; while aggregate demand is also weakened through reduced income and the simple inability to move about freely to purchase goods.
Policy makers around the world have acted swiftly to protect businesses from this sharp decrease in consumer demand. In recent weeks, many governments have announced stimulus packages that significantly trump those of the 2008 global financial crisis. It is becoming clear that the impact of COVID-19 on communities, financial markets and the economy will be significant and long-lasting – and that a “wait and see” option is no longer on the table. Decisive and immediate action is required on all fronts, globally.
Two sides to every coin
The COVID-19 crisis has underlined the resilience – and importance – of the digital economy. During times of great disruption like this, businesses with a fully digital operating model, supported by cloud-based IT infrastructure, are not just able to continue “business as usual”, but also possess the agility to adapt and seize new opportunities.
The current disruption also highlights the fragility of the existing financial system and underscores the potential for digital assets to play a more important role in the future. It may also serve as a possible alternative to the current financial system, one more resilient to economic shocks like that caused by COVID-19.
Bitcoin and Ethereum both fit Nassim Taleb’s (the populariser of the Black Swan concept) classification of “anti-fragile assets”; those assets that have the potential to grow in strength and resilience during times of uncertainty.
Our long-term belief in the value and potential of the digital asset economy that we call Future Finance remains steadfast.
Protecting and enabling our team
Ensuring staff safety and operating in “decentralised mode”
Appropriate actions from Sygnum’s Business Continuity Plan (BCP) were swiftly implemented to protect the well-being of our Zurich and Singapore staff and the interests of our clients, as well as to ensure the business remains ahead of the curve with a comprehensive COVID-19 response.
Sygnum was rooted from the start in the banking and finance hubs of Zurich and Singapore. In times like these, we are truly thankful that Sygnum possessed from day-one a robust and scalable cloud-based IT architecture to enable our dual-country operations, and which permitted us to transition seamlessly into full “decentralised mode”, with all team members working remotely – a natural way for a digital asset specialist like Sygnum to work.
This mode means our secure banking infrastructure can be managed remotely in a highly efficient manner, and that our staff can onboard and serve customers, develop products and run the bank just as smoothly from remote locations as they can gathered together around a table.
We are open for business and can maintain our current operational state indefinitely if required.
100% digital business growth
Sygnum, as well as being the world’s first digital asset bank, is also a fully digital bank. Every part of the onboarding process – from account applications and identity verifications, to document submissions and compliance checks – can be done online from both local and international jurisdictions. Once clients are onboarded, they can securely and conveniently access Sygnum’s full portfolio of products and services via our e-banking portal without setting foot in the bank’s Zurich offices.
Our digital asset custody solution has been designed in such a way that all our clients’ assets are held in highly secure, segregated wallets for each individual client. These wallets are also segregated from the traditional financial markets and from balance sheets, and are available with one click from our licenced banking platform from anywhere in the world.
Sygnum clients can continue to invest in the digital asset economy with complete trust – despite the unfolding disruption caused by COVID-19
Trust. Technology. Together
Trust. Technology. Together. These are the three pillars of our business that we use to empower our customers to invest in the digital asset economy with complete trust. We reflect on the value and meaning of what it is to be in this crisis “Together”, and our customers can trust us to put our full focus on the safeguarding and development of their digital asset investments.
These times of equal uncertainty and opportunity demand extraordinary leadership, focused attention – and most of all great collaboration. The entire Sygnum team is at the ready and prepared to navigate the tough challenges that lie ahead.
We wish you and your loved ones, wherever in the world you might find yourselves, continued good health and positive energy to get through the weeks and months ahead.
The Sygnum team