Irish crypto traders are not a happy lot; currently alleging that there is a conspiracy among the local banks to deny them banking services. Due to this, majority are faced with two options: either shut down their operations or seek banking services with foreign banks.
According to Irish Bitcoin brokers like Bitcove and Eircoin, banks in the country have made it a habit of closing the accounts of cryptocurrency trading companies. According to a report published in The Irish Times, the situation has resulted in the shutting down of Eircoin’s operation in the country.
Dave Fleming, a co-founder of the company, said that banks in the country were to blame for the closure of the firm’s business. He accused the Irish banking system of being negligent and defensive.
As for Bitcove, multiple banks – including the Bank of Ireland and AIB – have closed its accounts. This situation has forced the company to seek overseas banking partners to continue its operations.
Bitcove co-founder Peter Nagle expressed his displeasure at the current situation, especially with the reason provided by the banks, saying:
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.
KYC and AML Regulations
Responding to the allegations, both the Bank of Ireland and AIB offered different lines. The Bank of Ireland said in a statement that it does not offer services to cryptocurrency companies. However, the bank also said that there was no prohibition against its customers from engaging in the market.
On the other hand, AIB denied any knowledge of discrimination by banks against Bitcoin brokers. A spokesperson for the bank said:
We don’t discriminate in relation to providing banking services to cryptocurrency companies nor have we been systematically exiting such companies.
The spokesperson said that the bank had an obligation to adhere to Know-Your-Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) regulations. The bank suggested that perhaps some cryptocurrency trading firms were not compliant with such regulations, leading to the closure of their accounts.
According to the Banking and Payments Federation of Ireland, lenders are at liberty to take the necessary steps to prevent financial crimes and terrorist funding activities. The Federation, however, denied claims of discrimination against cryptocurrency brokers.
However Flemming dismissed the banks responses, saying that he believes the KYC and AML arguments are an attempt de-legitimize cryptocurrency trading in the country. He argued that if Bitcoin brokers were funding any criminal activities, they would be under legal investigation.
Cointelegraph reports that Ireland isn’t the only country where banks seem averse to cryptocurrency trading operations. In both India and Iran, the country’s central bank instructed regulated financial institutions not to facilitate virtual currency transactions. In Chile, banks closed the accounts of some crypto exchange platforms, much to the chagrin of the cryptocurrency community in the country – but a successful appeal overturned the policy.
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