Singapore Bank DBS Says It Isn't an Ethereum Whale

It would have been awfully bullish for Ethereum if DBS, the largest bank in Singapore, were a whale with $650 million worth of ETH on its balance sheet.

But that’s not the case, according to the bank.

“In relation to the post, DBS does not have this position on our books,” a bank spokesperson told Decrypt in an email.

The post they were referring to is one from blockchain analytics platform Nansen. The firm said on Twitter early Thursday morning that they had linked an Ethereum wallet to the bank.

“We have it under good authority, via several independent sources, that DBS owns the private key of this wallet and these assets are most likely a part of their custody solution,” Edward Wilson, a Nansen analyst, told Decrypt. “This may be similar to how we see institutions, both crypto native, like exchanges such as Binance or Coinbase custody funds on behalf of their users and how non-crypto native funds custody digital assets for their clients. The institution may be the custodian and responsible for managing the security of the funds.”

When asked if the wallet is instead one that the bank uses to custody funds on behalf of its crypto clients, the spokesman declined to comment.

It’s not totally implausible that DBS would hold Ethereum—even if only on behalf of its clients. It’s got a long track record as a crypto early adopter.

The Singapore bank has seen its market capitalization grow substantially since the start of the year, from $63 billion to $75 billion at the time of writing. It added support for China’s CBDC, the e-CNY, last summer. And in 2020, when many banks were still blocking crypto transactions, the Singapore firm launched its DBS Digital Exchange.

And when the exchange provide popular with its clients, the bank added a custody service as well.

“In 2022, DBS reported an 80% increase in the volume of Bitcoin traded on its DBS Digital Exchange,” the bank wrote last year. “Capitalizing on this momentum, the bank expanded its services to include digital asset custody, which resulted in a doubling of the number of Bitcoins under custody.”

At the time of writing, DBS’s shares are trading for $35.85 Singapore dollars, or approximately $26.55 in U.S. dollars. And Ethereum is currently trading for $3,756.96. That’s a 1.5% drop since yesterday, but a 25% gain since last week when the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission approved Ethereum spot ETFs to trade on exchanges.

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