Italian Bank Launches Bitcoin (BTC) Trading amid Coronavirus Lockdown

Banca Sella has responded to customers’ growing interest in cryptocurrencies amid the COVID-19-driven crisis.

In the wake of a nationwide lockdown over the coronavirus outbreak, one of Italy’s leading banks, Banca Sella, has rolled out a crypto trading service to capitalize on a growing interest in Bitcoin (BTC) as a secure way to transfer money internationally in the midst of the crisis.

The company announced on Thursday the addition of a full-fledged crypto wallet, allowing the purchase, sale, and storage of Bitcoin, as well as paying for goods and services with the cryptocurrency. The new feature is now available to at least 1.2 million users of the bank's new digital platform HYPE Plus. Future plans include opening the service to all Banca Sella customers.

The crypto service comes in response to customer demand, Banca Sella noted. According to a survey conducted by HYPE, 13.5% of its user base indicated an interest in trading cryptocurrencies.

"The cryptocurrency and Bitcoin market in particular continues to arouse interest, especially among the public that constitutes our customer base — by definition young and smart and who, increasingly, expect to be able to access this world through the tool that they use to manage money on a daily basis,” Antonio Valitutti, General Manager at Hype said.

Italian institutions have also recently demonstrated increasing interest in cryptocurrency and blockchain. Earlier this month, two Italian high schools announced they would start offering unalterable and easily shareable digital diplomas using Ethereum (ETH) blockchain. The technology was also applied to electronic voting in Naples last years. When it comes to cryptocurrencies, the Italian Red Cross last week launched a Bitcoin Fundraiser to help combat the pandemic in the country. Milan-based startup Conio also announced that they will offer an additional Bitcoin wallet on the Hype platform.

With the recent coronavirus-driven slump of global stock markets, many opt to invest in digital assets, especially after shaking off the initial panic sell-off.

After plummeting in the past two weeks, cryptocurrencies saw a big rally on Thursday, with some $23.8 billion added to the market value in just 24 hours. And while Bitcoin is still trading below where it started 2020, the flagship coin has now gained over 14% to stand at $6,605 on Friday.

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