Media reports claim that major Portuguese banks have stopped opening accounts with cryptocurrency platforms like exchanges or closed them down altogether. The move threatens to tarnish the country’s image as one of Europe’s most crypto-friendly destinations, a haven for bitcoin enthusiasts.
Bank Account Closures Cause Portuguese Crypto Firms to Strike
Portugal, an important European crypto hub is at risk of losing its attraction for cryptocurrency businesses and people working in this industry. Many of Portugal’s biggest banks are closing down accounts of digital currency-related companies.
Last week, the nation’s biggest listed bank, Banco Comercial Portugues, and another major institution, Banco Santander, shut down all the accounts of Lisbon-based Criptoloja, Bloomberg reported, quoting the exchange’s co-founder and CEO Pedro Borges. The development follows the decision of two smaller banks to close the platform’s accounts.
The crypto-entrepreneur stressed that no official explanations were given in these instances. Jornal de Negocios revealed this week that the Caixa Geral de Depositos, a state bank, and Lisbon’s BiG, both started closing crypto-exchange accounts.
According to the report, at least two other cryptocurrency brokers have experienced bank account closings in 2018. Mind the Coin was unable to open an accounts for several months. Luso Digital Assets, a rival, had its accounts shut down. Mind the Coin’s executives also complained.
Portugal’s Crypto Businesses Forced to Open Accounts Outside Country
Many lenders refuse to lend money to crypto companies because of anti-money laundering laws and know your customer rules. Banco Comercial explained that it’s obliged to report suspicious transactions which may lead to termination of banking services for some entities. Banco Santander acts “in accordance with its perception of risk,” a representative said.
“We now have to rely on using accounts outside Portugal to run the exchange,” Criptoloja’s founder Pedro Borges admitted. That’s despite his company becoming the first to obtain a license from the central bank last year. Criptoloja pointed out that he has reported suspicious activities to authorities and adhered to all compliance requirements. Mind the Coin’s Pedro Guimaraes added:
While there is no official explanation, some banks just tell us they don’t want to work with crypto companies. It’s almost impossible to start a crypto business in Portugal right now.
This year, three out of five authorized coin trading platforms by Banco de Portugal had their accounts closed. While it’s unclear whether the trend is affecting other companies in the sector, it could be a sign of a toughening environment in Portugal, which lured crypto enthusiasts with its zero-percent tax on crypto gains, affordable living costs, and mild climate.
What do you think the impact of bank account closures on other crypto companies in Portugal will be? Please leave your comments below.
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