Irish Banks Start Shunning Domestic Crypto Businesses

Irish Banks Start Shunning Domestic Crypto Businesses

Irish banks are eschewing companies that deal in cryptocurrencies, compelling some domestic operations to shutter or open accounts in crypto friendly nations such as Malta. The Central Bank of Ireland has issued no such directive to shun crypto businesses, and local banks are denying a crackdown, but the apparent tightening coincides with cryptocurrencies’ rising popularity. 

Also read: EU’s Controversial Article 13: Considerations for the Blockchain Space

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Crypto Businesses ‘Unbanked’ by Irish Bankers

When it comes to cryptocurrencies, Irish banks seem to be more and more opposed as of late, which has led to a string of Irish crypto plays being forced to bank outside of Ireland. One such entity has been bitcoin exchange Bitcove.

Things were not always so rigid in Ireland — previously Bitcove did have banking partners including two of the nation’s “Big Four,” Allied Irish Banks and the Bank of Ireland. In what’s been a complete turnaround, then, these banks and their ilk have recently terminated Bitcove’s and other exchanges’ accounts, pushing these operations to either close up shop or scout for new banking partners abroad.

Allegorical statue of Justice – Dublin, Ireland.

Bitcove co-founder Peter Nagle told Irish Times:

“The reasons cited have been that they do not support companies offering cryptocurrency exchange facilities despite the fact they had previously given us an account for this purpose.”

Per Nagle, the first bank to flip-flop was the Bank of Ireland. Initially, the bank did acknowledge Bitcove’s efforts to start a bitcoin exchange but later reneged their account for precisely that reason.

Irish Banks Fear Growing Crypto Adoption?

Recently shuttered bitcoin exchange Eircoin also blamed country’s lender for its closure. Dave Fleming, co-founder of Eircoin, stated: “We are being shuttered due to a negligent and defensive banking system.”

According to Fleming, Irish banks are putting on an act to give a bad name to cryptocurrencies by associating them with wrongdoings. A flex to push down rising apparent competition, if you will.

However, the attitude of the masses towards the crypto space seems to be increasingly positive, at least in general in Ireland. Recently, a survey was conducted by Irish Market Research Specialists Amárach Research and communications agency Red Flag to determine Irish attitude towards cryptocurrencies. Per the survey’s findings, 120,000 Irish citizens own digital currencies and over 180,000 have traded bitcoin at one time or the other. It would seem that stigmatization of crypto in the nation is beginning to give way to adoption.

Banks now likely fear losing business to crypto companies accordingly. In Germany, for instance, a new platform Bitbond is using bitcoin to transfer credit internationally — an arena traditionally for regular banks. The increasing encroachments are obviously being noted.

Bitcove’s now positioning itself to be a foil for its former bankers, saying:

“We don’t discriminate in relation to providing banking services to cryptocurrency companies nor have we been systematically exiting such companies.”

For its part, the aforementioned Allied Irish Bank gave a blanket statement that bitcoin businesses need to comply with the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC) regulations, as if violations against these regulations were widespread in Ireland’s nook of the cryptoverse.

Per the Central Bank of Ireland, though, as long as such businesses comply with the law, there is no reason to stop facilitating them.

Do Irish banks fear greater adoption of cryptocurrencies? Share your views in the comments section.

Images via Pixabay

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