The logo of Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria, SA (BBVA) can be seen at the SIBOS Banking and Financial Conference in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on October 19, 2017. REUTERS / Chris Helgren / File Photo

MADRID, June 18 (Reuters) – Spain’s BBVA (BBVA.MC) announced on Friday that it is launching a bitcoin trading service for private banking clients in Switzerland interested in investing in digital assets.

The bank said the new deal, which launches June 21, will include bitcoin trading and custody services with the aim of expanding it to other cryptocurrencies. It said it would not offer advice on these types of investments.

BBVA said that during a phased rollout it had seen a “significant desire” among investors in crypto assets or digital assets to diversify their portfolios despite their volatility and high risk, said Alfonso Gomez, chief executive of BBVA Switzerland.

The trading service takes place amid the growing institutional interest in Bitcoin. The largest cryptocurrency is viewed by investors and some companies as a hedge against inflation as governments and central banks turn on the stimulus taps.

El Salvador is the first country in the world to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender, despite central banks around the world repeatedly warning that investors in the cryptocurrency must be prepared to lose all of their money. Continue reading

Major economies, including China and the United States, have signaled a tougher approach in the past few weeks, developing plans to develop their own central bank digital currencies.

In May, Goldman Sachs (GS.N) revealed details of a cryptocurrency trading group, according to a Reuters employee memo. Continue reading

On Friday, BBVA said this new cryptocurrency service will be restricted to Switzerland as the country has clear regulation and widespread adoption of digital assets.

“Expansion to new countries or other types of customers will depend on whether the markets meet the appropriate conditions in terms of maturity, demand and regulation,” it said.

BBVA is present in Switzerland through a wholly owned franchise that focuses on international banking services.

Reporting by Jesús Aguado; Adaptation by Emma Pinedo

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