Thematic videoSwiss National Bank Monetary Assessment June 2021
The Swiss have bucked international trends by revamping their highest-value bank note. So, what’s behind the preference for cash?
Last month, the Swiss unveiled a smart new banknote to stash in their wallets. The purple 1,000 franc bill was the latest in the Swiss National Bank (SNB) series to undergo a revamp. The new note is slightly smaller and shows two people shaking hands above a globe; the theme is communicative flair, according to the SNB.
And this is no ordinary note, it’s one of the world’s most valuable banknotes, worth around 880 euros ($1,007, £764). According to the SNB’s latest figures there are more than 48 million of them in circulation, accounting for around 60% of the value of all banknotes in Switzerland.
But this revamp comes as other nations are phasing out their high-value notes and as cash usage declines in European nations, albeit at greatly differing rates.
The 1,000-franc note is one of the world's most valuable (Credit: SNB Archive)
Bring your wallet
Discussing the new note in early March, SNB Vice-Chairman Fritz Zurbruegg described cash for the Swiss as a “cultural phenomenon” and said the 1,000 franc note “corresponds to what people want”. It was popular for high-value purchases and paying bills at the post office, as well as being “a store of value”, he added.
In Switzerland, cash remains the dominant payment method. Here, there’s an assumption everyone carries cash, even in an increasingly digital economy. Most don’t get caught out buying a sandwich or paying for a haircut when the card payment machine is out of order.
If you have to pay for a coffee with a 100 franc note, the first citizens bank need to apologise – no one will ask if you have something smaller. And for those big-ticket items, some banks even allow you to withdraw up to 5,000 francs per day (or 10,000 a month) at the cash machine without advance notice. Buying a car that costs tens of thousands with cash is also not that unusual.
An SNB Survey in 2017 looking at the payment behaviour of 2,000 Swiss participants found that they made 70% of their transactions in cash. Debit cards accounted for another 22%, followed by credit cards at 5%. Innovative methods like payment apps and contactless card payments performed much more modestly.
Yet a 2018 report by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) says that globally many payments traditionally made in cash are going electronic. While neighbours like Germany seem to share Switzerland’s affinity for cash, other European nations like Sweden and The Netherlands are moving much more rapidly away from it.
Why then do the Swiss prefer cash? Two simple reasons are that cash is widely considered to be part of their culture and people believe that using it allows them to track their spending more easily. In Basel, 53-year-old Chris Troiani confirmed this, saying many people she knows still prefer the reassurance of carrying big bills in their wallet.
Philippe Chappuis, 44, favours paying with a card or using a mobile payment app – but for practical reasons. “I don’t like my wallet being stuffed with coins,” he says. Yet he can understand why people like cash, saying the SNB’s use of negative interest rates has led to uncertainty around how banks might react and raised concerns about snb zurich existing on a virtual level. Cash is more tangible, he feels: “You can be sure you own it.”
Jürgen Engler, like other traders at Basel’s Marketplatz, only accepts cash. “Two or three customers a month ask to pay with a card,” he says. “When I go to the shops I like to pay with a card but when I go to the market or to a restaurant I always pay with real money.”
Yet despite the entrenched popularity of cash, use of mobile payment apps such as TWINT or V Pay is starting to grow. Research conducted in 2017 concluded the proportion of Swiss consumers using mobile payment on an occasional basis was set to increase.
Jane Kettner, 29, is part of a younger generation embracing these new payment methods, but she still finds paying with cash gives her greater control over her spending. “When it’s electronic you spend the money more easily,” she says.
Compared to other nations, the Swiss don't use payment apps much – but that's slowly starting to change (Credit: Getty Images)
It’s a point reiterated by Miguel Brendl, a psychologist and marketing professor at the University of Basel. “Lay wisdom suggests spending a virtual franc can feel as if you are spending less than when spending a physical franc, but even if this is true, and it may well be true, this alone is not sufficient to explain why a society would favour cash,” he comments.
There’s also the identity factor: the Swiss identify with cash in part because of how they see themselves. This is a nation which values privacy and doesn’t like being told what to do. They see themselves as different to their European neighbours and closely guard those traditions which set them apart, such as languages, political system and currency.
Neighbours point out that high-value notes help criminals launder money: 17 of the 19 Eurozone central banks have agreed to stop producing 500 euro notes to help curb crime, and Germany’s Bundesbank and the Austrian National Bank are soon to follow suit.
High-denomination notes make it easier to withdraw large sums (Credit: Getty Images)
High denomination notes also make it easier to withdraw large sums from bank accounts, in particular towards the end of the year when the Swiss must declare their wealth on their bank statements. Fritz Zurbruegg rejected the idea that the 1,000-franc note was used more often than others by criminals, but accepted that while shoppers’ demand for cash increases at Christmas, it could also be because “studies also show other factors like possible tax evasion”.
Patrick Comboeuf of the Institute of Digital Business at HWZ University of Applied Sciences in Zurich and board member of Fintechrockers, a think tank created by a diverse group of activists, believes that Switzerland will move away from cash in time.
“The biggest lever towards a more efficient adoption of cashless payments is a top-notch user experience. Unfortunately, this is also the most neglected in any of the concepts available in Switzerland today,” he says. But he believes the digital era is shifting power from the financial services industry to consumers, leading to a greater focus on customer service.
Cryptocurrency and blockchain technology remain hot topics for Swiss start-ups and established companies alike, and a recent study by Lucerne University found that Swiss fintech growth accelerated significantly in 2018 both in terms of the number of companies and the venture capital invested.
Jonathan Rea, CEO of Foinder, a Swiss-based business consultancy, believes any mass adoption of a cryptocurrency as a replacement for day-to-day transactions is at least a decade away. “For mass adoption to take place it depends on the trade-off between privacy, convenience, self-identity and the perceived value of cash as a protection against going into debt,” he says.
For now, many Swiss still value the anonymity and freedom that cash affords them. The new notes are making their way out into the world. Simply put, they are items of beauty. That’s if you can keep them in your wallet long enough.
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Swiss National Bank policy makers watching the effects of negative interest rates on the economy are worrying about the real-estate bubble that their policy is helping to foster.
Aware that any shift in their sub-zero stance could unsettle currency markets, officials are likely instead to highlight the availability of regulatory tools to cool the property market at their decision on Thursday.
While they could stop short of recommending a reactivation of the bank-capital buffer suspended early in the pandemic, policy makers may at least reiterate Vice President Fritz Zurbruegg’s stern warning this month that real-estate risks have continued to build.
Switzerland has experience dealing with property bubbles amid the constraints of its ultra-loose monetary policy, and previously resorted to such so-called macroprudential tools to keep gains in check. The country is one among several from New Zealand to Denmark whose real-estate markets have spiraled higher in the wake of the pandemic.
“If you’re in charge of financial stability, you should be snb zurich and say stern things,” said Stefan Gerlach, the Zurich-based chief economist of EFG International AG who was deputy governor of Ireland’s central bank in the aftermath of its housing collapse. “You don’t know when you’re going to have a car crash, so you always have a safety belt on.”
Any commentary on the property market will accompany the SNB’s quarterly decision at 9:30am in Zurich on Thursday. It’s almost certain to reiterate its buzzword for the franc as being “highly valued” to justify its easy monetary-policy stance with the world’s lowest interest rate of -0.75%. Officials will release new growth and inflation forecasts.
SNB President Thomas Jordan, who has been waylaid by medical treatment since August, will participate in the policy decision, according to a person familiar with the situation.
Designed to prevent too much of a rise in the currency, the SNB’s ultra-easy policy of negative rates and occasional currency-market interventions has protected economic growth at the expense of a buoyant real-estate market. A UBS Group AG indicator deems the situation there as close to a bubble.
In force since 2013, the countercyclical capital buffer on banks’ mortgage assets was deactivated in March 2020 as part of an effort to free up 26 billion francs ($28 billion) worth of capital for financial institutions to prevent a credit crunch caused snb zurich the pandemic.
The SNB only makes recommendations on use of the tool, and any decision to deploy it is a political judgment taken by the Swiss government
“It may come back because now credit supply is good, in this and many other respects the economy is recovering,” though officials may also choose to wait to gauge the effect of a fourth pandemic wave, said Ursina Kubli of Zuercher Kantonalbank. “I don’t think it’ll curb the market that much, but it has got a signaling effect.”
(Updates with governor’s return in 7th paragraph)
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
Swiss National Bank (SNB)
What Is the Swiss National Bank (SNB)?
The term Swiss National Bank (SNB) refers to the central bank of Switzerland. Founded in 1906, the SNB is located in Berne and Zurich, with six other offices in the country along with a branch office in Singapore. The central bank acts as an independent body, taking charge of the country's monetary policy and ensuring national price stability. Snb zurich SNB has 13 agencies that maintaining the supply of Switzerland's national currency, the Swiss franc (CHF). The bank is managed by its governing board and is led by chairman Thomas Jordan.
- The Swiss National Bank is the central bank of Switzerland.
- The bank is responsible for setting the country's monetary policy, ensuring national price stability, and issuing Swiss francs.
- Operating since 1907, the bank's main offices are in Berne and Zurich.
- The SNB's bank council oversees and controls its business activities while the governing board oversees asset management, monetary policy, international cooperation, and financial stability.
- The bank is a joint=stock company, which means it issues shares that are held by state-owned banks and other investors.
Understanding the Swiss National Bank (SNB)
As noted above, the Swiss National Bank is the central bank of Switzerland. It is an independent body that is bound to and abides by the Swiss Constitution to act in the best economic and financial interests of the country and its citizens. The bank's main goal is to ensure the stability of prices and monitoring the nation's economy to allow for growth and development.
The SNB is also responsible for:
- Implementing monetary policy
- Issuing and maintaining the nation's money supply, a responsibility it assumed in 1910
- Participating in the Swiss Interbank Clearing payment system, which facilitates cashless payment transactions
- Managing the nation's currency reserves
- Ensuring the stability of the financial system
- Working with federal authorities in international monetary cooperation
There are two head offices of the SNB, which are located in Berne and Zurich. The bank has six other representative offices, which are located in Basel, Geneva, Lausanne, Lugano, Lucerne, and St. Gallen. The SNB maintains one branch office in Singapore, along with 13 other agencies, which are run by government-owned retail banks.
The bank council is responsible for overseeing and controlling the SNB's business activities. There are 11 members of the council who each serve four-year terms. The full terms can't exceed a total of 12 years. The executive and management body of the bank is called the governing board. This board oversees asset management, monetary policy, along with international cooperation and financial stability in the nation. The board's chairman is Thomas Jordan who was appointed in 2012.
The Swiss National Bank was created in January 1906 as part of the Federal Act on the Swiss National Bank, which is also called the National Bank Act. It officially opened for business the following year in June.
The Swiss National Bank is a joint-stock company. As such, it issues shares to private and public investors. There are 100,000 shares that are registered, each with a nominal value of CHF 250. Roughly half of the SNB's shares are held by the country's state-owned banks and other public corporations. The remainder of SNB shares is held by private shareholders in the domestic and foreign markets.
Fractional Reserve Referendum best fully automatic bb gun Switzerland operates on a fractional reserve system. This system is referred to nationally as the Sovereign Money Initiative. Banks are required to meet reserve requirements but under this kind of system, only a fraction of bank deposits are guaranteed by the central bank.
As such, banks essentially create money as they lend out more cash than what they actually have in their vaults. The SNB accounts for around 10% of the country's supply of money, with the rest created by lenders in the form of credit.
In June 2018, Switzerland voted on a referendum (known as the Sovereign Money or Vollgeld Initiative) to end the ability of lenders to write loans for more funds than they hold. Fears circulated that if the vote succeeded, it would cause a financial panic or a Brexit-type event. Others feared the passage would place too much power in the hands of the central bank. The referendum failed, with three-quarters of the population voting against any changes to the current policy.
Head of Swiss National Bank denies insider trading
Philipp Hildebrand, head of the Swiss National Bank (SNB), was questioned on Monday by a parliamentary committee over his involvement in an alleged insider trading scandal. The hearing was held behind closed doors.
Swiss President Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf stood by Snb zurich last week and said he should not resign.
"We would lose a [central bank] president who has undisputedly done excellent work, has a good network, and could be very useful to Switzerland," said Widmer-Schlumpf on Swiss television late Friday.
Hildebrand has donated the profits to charity
Press reports claim that Hildebrand's wife Kashya profited after buying $504,000 (396,000 euros) last August, just weeks before an intervention by the SNB to halt the rise of the franc. The couple profited handsomely when the dollar's value soared against the Swiss franc.
The 48-year-old acknowledged that three private banking deals made by him and his wife could be misinterpreted, but he said his only mistake was to let his wife go through with one particularly sensitive transaction. Hildebrand said he has since donated the personal profits to charity.
SNB-chief denies breaking rules
Hildebrand held a news conference last week in which he denied any wrongdoing. He also rebuffed calls to resign. He has vowed to boost transparency in the central bank.
"What was positive about what Hildebrand did, and this was reflected in the newspapers, is that he said he was sorry about what happened," Swiss daily Tages-Anzeiger journalist Arthur Rutishauser told Deutsche Welle. "The negative thing is still the fact that the president of the SNB did trade with dollars, or his wife did, so he still has a difficult standing here in Switzerland."
The Swiss National Bank has launched an investigation
Hildebrand met his wife when they were both working for the same hedge fund. She holds dual American-Swiss citizenship. In interviews, Hildebrand has called his wife a "strong personality."
"What Hildebrand says is that he didn't make the transaction himself, it was his wife, and his wife didn't know exactly what they were going to do at the SNB. So it's his defense line," Rutishauser explained.
The scandal took a political turn with revelations that the government last month received Hildebrand's private banking documents from Christoph Blocher, chief of the conservative Swiss People's Party (UDC), the largest in the Federal Assembly. The party has called on Hildebrand to resign.
The details of the transactions were leaked by an employee at the Basel-based Bank Sarasin, who was concerned about the possibility of insider trading. A criminal investigation has opened into the conduct of the employee. One Sunday newspaper reported that he had attempted suicide this weekend.
An investigation by PricewaterhouseCoopers has cleared the couple of any wrongdoing, though the currency purchase was deemed "sensitive." SNB said they would hire an outside firm to audit all banking transactions carried out by managers since 2009.
Journalist Rutishauser thinks that Hildebrand will stay in office for now.
"If there is no new bad news, maybe he can survive. If there is anything, even a minor thing that is coming out now, that he lied, or that he didn't say the whole truth, then he has to leave office."
Author: Joanna Impey
Editor: Gabriel Borrud
CURRENCY @ SWISS NATIONAL BANK, ZURICH
An exhibition from Danny Bredar & Leah Ke Yi Zheng
Reception on July 9th
Musical Performance by Jeremy Freeze
Refreshments Provided by Land and Sea Dept.
Soccer Club Club is pleased to announce a reception on Friday, July 9th for vaccinated guests! Please provide proof of vaccination (photo or card) at the door to ensure the safety and health of everyone—we can’t wait to welcome you to the space once again.
Drag City/Soccer Club Club, in collaboration with Currency, is pleased to announce Currency @ Swiss National Bank, Zurich, a two-person exhibition by Danny Bredar and Leah Ke Yi Zheng. This exhibition originally inhabited the Swiss National Bank in Zurich and has been re-realized for the context of Soccer Club Club in Chicago. Currency is a groundless and fictional gallery, invented in the first months of the pandemic as a response to the placelessness and crisis of presence become rampant. Bredar and Zheng’s prior Currency exhibition was held in Münster, Germany, adjacent to the Ruin Your Life tattoo parlor.
Bredar has been obsessed with the Velázquez painting Kitchen Scene (c. 1619) in the Art Institute of Chicago since 2017. In a eureka moment, he discovered that there is a self-portrait reflection of Velázquez in the concave brass bowl, a silhouette that is unmentioned in the art historical literature. Garlic skin is adhered to this prime sequence of 11 paintings.
Zheng arrives at unknowable aporias within the baroque folds of the curtain motif. Irregularly shaped silk paintings submerge the surface of interpretation. The industrial revolution and the beginning of algorithmic capitalism churn at this level. Indirect deviations prompt a skeptical gap from the propaganda of technological progress.
Grayscale photographs depict an interior in the Swiss National Bank, Zurich with some of the same works snb zurich display. The oscillation of appearance and disappearance resounds in the artists’ attempted reorganization of our psychomodernity. The ideology of superficial consumption is heartbreaking to them.
Under the paving stones, the sky. Cryptic and hermetic entities offer an intricate density within the Currency apparatus, a dialogical thirdness between two artists exchanging ideas and signals. As Broodthaers absorbed the museum, they absorb the convention of international exhibiting in order to anticipate and appropriate assimilation-of-critique as a tool and implement it against its own system. Good luck.
— Wenzel Beckenbauer, Director of Currency
More events on this date
Tags: Chicago, Currency @ Swiss National Bank, Danny Bredar, Hermosa, Leah Ke Yi Zheng, Soccer Club Club, Zurich
Swiss National Bank (SNB)
About 55% of bank' shares are snb zurich by public institutions like cantons and cantonal banks. The remaining shares are traded on the stock market. They are mostly owned by private individuals. The Swiss Confederation does not hold any shares.
|Key People||Thomas J. Jordan (Chairman of the Governing Board)|
Swiss banks are known worldwide. Alongside their delicious food, beautiful places, and quality watches, the Swiss are also known for their banking system. While that fame mostly comes from investment banking and accounts holding millions, if living in Switzerland has sparked an interest in you, or you want to open a Swiss bank account, then you would like to know how their banks work.
Why Are Swiss Banks Famous?
Swiss banks have a reputation for providing anonymity, safety, and have earned the tax haven name. However, the days when Switzerland banks served for providing top-secret accounts are gone. It’s not that all banks in Switzerland swore off of offshore clients. Nevertheless, now they’re more cautious and much more regulated when it comes to non-Swiss residents who want to open Swiss bank accounts.
Switzerland now has a law—which was first an agreement between Switzerland and the U.S.—that makes tax evasion highly improbable. This law is called the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), which requires the country to provide information about U.S. accounts in Switzerland.
Swiss bank account advantages
Swiss banks offer economic security, confidentiality, and asset protection. Apart from being the most capitalized and safest, swiss banks offer accounts in all major currencies, and they include low levels of financial risk. The Swiss economy is known for its stability and neutrality when it comes to conflicts.
These benefits make swiss banks the most economically stable and secure place where you can store your money. Given that, Swiss bank account opening may seem a bit tricky at first, but once you get the gist of the essential requirements, it will ease up.
Types of Bank Accounts in Switzerland
There are numerous types of bank accounts in Switzerland, and they all serve specific purposes.
A current account is the simplest type of bank account you can open in Swiss banks. You can receive your salary, pay your bills, save money, and invest through snb zurich account. Moreover, you can also withdraw cash in both Swiss francs and euros.
Current accounts usually require a monthly fee, which varies from CHF 5 per month for standard accounts and up to CHF 15 per month for premium accounts. In addition, if you withdraw cash from ATMs that other banks manage, you may be required to pay additional processing fees.
True to their bank of america refinance contact number, joint accounts clear lake bank and trust co be used by two parties, and both have full access to any funds. Most usually, joint accounts are held 50:50 between the two parties; however, if both named holders agree, they can also hold the account in different proportions.
Savings and investment accounts
If you’re looking to put money aside or even invest them, saving and investment accounts are the best choice for you.
Though they sound similar, saving and investing are two different concepts. On one hand, saving accounts allow you to save your money for long periods and eventually earn a lower return, but with no risk. On the other hand, investing allows you to make much more in return, but you also risk losing a considerable amount of money.
Numbered Swiss bank accounts
Numbered accounts are high-security accounts that some Swiss banks offer so that the account holder has an extra layer of privacy.
These accounts, however, include significant fees that can go up to CHF 2,000 a year. For such accounts, banks are allowed to ban international payments as well as monitor large payments for money laundering purposes.
How to Open a Swiss Bank Account for Non-Resident or Foreigners?
If you’re moving to Switzerland or just someone interested in owning a bank account in Switzerland, you probably want to tackle the account opening issue head-on. Wherever you’re trying to open an account, this task is bound to meet you with its challenges.
First, we have to mention that Swiss Law enables non-residents to open a Swiss bank account at least 18 years old. Apart from this, there aren’t a lot of limitations.
Opening a Swiss bank account is challenging for non-residents trying to open accounts overseas, where they won’t seem to find everyday services of Swiss banks in other countries. Nonetheless, they can contact a Swiss bank online and resort to transactions via correspondence (the latter is usually done by post and rarely online).
To start things off, a non-resident would have to contact a Swiss bank and request an application package—which, to a resident, is the equivalent of walking into a bank and asking to open a bank account. After taking these steps, you will be provided with an account manager to guide you through the process.
Requirements for opening a Swiss bank account
Whether you’re in Switzerland or abroad, there are some ground requirements that you’ll have to meet in order to settle this. Those being your documentation and eligibility. So, prepare for a lot of paperwork, some more, and some more.
Same as any other bank in the world, Swiss banks require a certain amount of paperwork and documentation. This serves for verification of identity and sources of income, whose purpose is separating them from any illegal work their potential client might have in their portfolio. If you’re looking to open a bank account in Switzerland, the documentation you’ll need is:
- A valid passport,
- Verification of the origin of your income (this could be a statement from your last bank),
- Confirmation of the address you listed (they might choose to send some mail to your address to verify this).
However, if you’re looking to open a Swiss account from abroad, you’ll need to get your documents authorized. You can do this by getting notarized copies or an Apostille stamp, or you can visit either a local branch of your Swiss account or the correspondent bank they chose for you.
No matter how great you may be on paper, there are some countries Switzerland won’t do business with. Whether that happened due to the Embargo Act or other political exclusions, that automatically loses your eligibility.
Say this isn’t one of your problems, you can still be estimated as ‘politically exposed’, and that essentially means they think of you as sketchy or you have some public scandals behind you. In this case, your legal income and nationality won’t do much for you, and you’d still be unable to open a Swiss bank account.
Make sure you have nothing of the sort in your background, and you can get started with your account.
Swiss bank minimum balance
The minimum balance for Swiss bank accounts depends on the account type and can vary from free of charge up to millions of dollars.
Generally, Swiss banks may require you to deposit at least 10,000 CHF ( $9,000 or EUR 6,800) within a month of opening your account. However, as previously mentioned, that may vary. For example, the UBS Group requires a minimum balance of up to 5,000,000 USD; whereas, Raiffeisen Switzerland Bank requires no minimum balance.
How to Open a Swiss Bank Account for Your Children?
Your children’s future is important, and Swiss banks know that. That’s why these banks offer savings accounts from children to which parents can make deposits and earn interest for their children’s future.
Such accounts are in the children’s name; however, only their parents can administer them until they reach legal age. They pay varying amounts of interest and provide the best rates up to certain limits (e.g., CHF 20,000).
Besides children’s accounts, Swiss banks also offer gift-saving accounts. These types of accounts can also be opened by other family members, like grandparents. In gift saving accounts, you can invest your savings in a fund, and if that fund does well, you can make a high return on cash. However, if the fund performs poorly, you may end up losing money.
When you’re choosing a bank for your children’s account, make sure to select the bank that offers the best services, such as cross-border payments, cash advances, and applying for a loan.
Transferring Watch dragons riders of berk from & to Switzerland
If for any reason, you or someone you know are in immediate need of money but are afraid that the transfer is going to cost an arm and a leg, you can always turn to money-transferring services like Transferwise to make transfers to & from Swizterland* at any time, and chances are that they will be more affordable to you.
Such services tend to have more optimized processes in place that will save you time and money. In fact, Transferwise services are provided online, which means that you can use the said services from the comfort of your house. All you need to do is create a Transferwise online account, and from there, everything will go smoothly.
Choosing a Swiss Bank and Cards
Choosing the right bank for you is an important step that will save you time and cut the chances of you having to go through different banks. However, whichever bank you end up choosing, you’ll have a guaranteed safety that comes with it.
Your option is to open an account at cantonal banks, private banks, and the two big Swiss banks (UBS Group AG and Credit Suisse Group AG). These have their differences in size, requirements, and what they provide.
The two major banks operate throughout the whole country and have headquarters in many international cities, so you won’t have to worry about moving and not being able to access your bank account.
As per Financial Times, a private bank is a term that refers to private banking services and they are often private banks that are usually shared corporations.
Cantonal Banks operate in cantons—meaning they don’t mix with residents of other cantons. So, if you tend to move often, and are moving from a canton to the other, they will ask you to change banks. Furthermore, if you happen to leave Switzerland, they will ask you to close the account altogether.
Another Swiss bank is the Swiss National Bank; however, you can’t open an individual account here. SNB’s role is to supply the Swiss economy with Swiss banknotes and is in charge of coin distribution.
National Swiss retail banks
National Swiss retail banks typically have branches across the country. They’re usually open Monday to Friday from around 8 am to 7 pm and offer walk-in services that allow you to withdraw and deposit cash, ask questions, and make appointments with your advisors.
These banks usually have multilingual staff; however, there isn’t a guarantee that the staff speaks English.
Some of the most known Swiss retail banks are:
- Migros Bank AG
- Credit Suisse
Swiss cantonal banks
Swiss cantonal banks are owned by the government and offer similar services to retail banks. Traditionally, they specialize in providing savings and mortgage products, and they tend to provide accounts only to the residents of the Swiss canton they operate in.
Some of the most known cantonal banks in Switzerland are:
- Aargauische Kantonalbank
- Appenzeller Kantonalbank
- Banque cantonale de Genève
- Banque cantonale du Valais
- Luzerner Kantonalbank
- Urner Kantonalbank
Regional savings banks
As the name suggests, Regional saving banks provide services in specific geographic regions. Though they’re similar to cantonal banks, they usually offer more limited services, such as saving accounts and mortgages.
Swiss investment banks
The Swiss banking sector includes numerous investment banks, and some of them only allow wealthy customers who invest huge amounts of money to open their investment accounts. However, this service can also be provided by many retail banks.
Where Swiss investment banks differ from others is that they exclusively cater towards investment activities.
Some of Switzerland’s most prominent investment banks are:
- Julius Bär Group
- Bank J. Safra Sarasin
- EFG International
Similar to Swiss retail banks, international banks are very likely to have English-speaking staff, and you can find them mainly in big cities like Zurich and Geneva.
Some of the most-known international banks in Switzerland are:
- Banco Santander (Spain)
- HSBC (United Kingdom)
- Deutsche Bank (Germany)
- Barclays Bank (United Kingdom)
- Citibank (United States)
- BNP Paribas (France)
As specified by The Balance, non-residents usually don’t use swiss banks for daily activities. Swiss accounts’ main benefits are their privacy and stability; nonetheless, you may get a debit or credit card for spending.
Taking that into consideration, the card you’ll first want to get from a Swiss bank is a debit card; you can use this card for day-to-day things like withdrawing cash or paying in shops. If you’ve set up the account, getting this card should be a walk in the park.
However, as mentioned by Expatica, if you want a credit card, you’ll have to wait for two months, and in those two months, deposit the maximum limit of your credit card twice.
Largest Bank in Switzerland
With more than 280 branches in over 50 countries, UBS Group is the largest bank in Switzerland. This bank offers world-class services to private institutions, corporate clients, as well as retail clients.
Its services consist of, but aren’t limited to:
- investment banking
- wealth management
- asset management
- capital market financing services
In June 2021, UBS Group had no less than CHF 1 trillion in total assets and CHF 475 billion in deposits.
Cost of Opening a Swiss Account
As is the case with most banks, there are some fees to take care of once you set up your account. These fees are within the normal range, but there’s a way of getting around them. So, you can expect a monthly maintenance fee from CHF 10 to CHF 30. However, if you switch to electronic banking statements, take a mortgage with the said bank, or have a hefty amount of deposits, these fees will be either reduced significantly or waived.
Switzerland interest rate
In Switzerland, the Swiss National Bank (SNB) takes decisions for interest rates. Negative interest has been applied since 22 January 2015 and currently corresponds to the SNB policy rate. Now the actual Swiss bank account interest rates stand at -0.75%.
Most foreign swiss account holders have their bank account in other currencies from Swiss Francs; otherwise, they’ll have to pay the Swiss withholding tax.
Swiss Banks Secrecy
Privacy is a big reason people resort to banks in Switzerland, but as mentioned before, Switzerland isn’t the place for movie-like, top-secret accounts anymore. There’s sound reasoning behind that since, for a long period, America’s wealthy 1% has used it for tax evasion and hiding illegal money in the past.
How Privacy Works for Banking in Switzerland
Now there are strict policies in place to prevent that from happening. While a few decades back, Swiss banks wouldn’t disclose your wealth to international authorities now they have an agreement with the U.S. that makes that possible.
Although Swiss banks don’t offer the same privacy as before, they still provide numbered accounts for those interested. Based on The Economic Times, numbered accounts serve for hiding your identity from the papers—meaning numbers appear where your name would typically be. These bank accounts require a significant sum of money for maintenance and have some restrictions of their own, which is why fewer people opt for them.
As for standard accounts, your information is safe with the bank, but your name will continue to be on your financial paper trail.
After all, even righteous citizens appreciate the additional layers of privacy that Swiss banking offers.
FAQs About Switzerland Banks
Can Swiss bank accounts be traced?
Hardly. It’s difficult to trace Swiss bank accounts due to the strict banking secrecy laws. According to the law, banks will not disclose their clients’ banking information because that represents a criminal offense.
Are Swiss bank accounts illegal?
No. But hiding them may be. When you do it for legitimate reasons, using a Swiss bank account is not illegal, even if it’s outside of your home country. However, in most cases, you may be required to declare your offshore bank account to your home country.
Can Americans open a Swiss bank account?
Yes. Any adult U.S. citizen is legally allowed to open a Swiss bank account. However, you can’t do that anonymously. Even though there aren’t taxes for accounts in Switzerland, American citizens must report their Swiss bank accounts to the Internal Revenue Service.
Apart from the great transport system, quality of life, and colorful culture, Switzerland is a country well-known for its banks. To this day, Swiss banks are one, if not the safest, places in the world to store your money. So, for whatever reason you might be interested in opening a Swiss bank account, we hope this helped you ease the process. Happy banking in Switzerland!
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