After local financial institutions refused to offer banking services to Irish crypto businesses, many of them were forced to either stop trading cryptocurrencies or to seek partners abroad. The local press reported that while some of them have lost their bank accounts, others have never been granted the permission to open one in the country.
Bitcoin exchange Bitcove has been operating since 2014. It had once worked with Allied Irish Banks (AIB), Permanent TSB and Bank of Ireland. The Irish Times reported that Bitcove is one of the affected companies. Peter Nagle, one of its co-founders, told the newspaper that the banks closed its accounts stating that they do not support companies that offer cryptocurrency exchange facilities. Since then, the trading platform has been using the services of “a more progressive banking partner” in Europe.
Nagle explained that “Particularly disappointing was the Bank of Ireland. We were participants on the Ignite startup program, which is backed by the bank. Our business and its progress were reviewed monthly by a panel which included the Bank of Ireland’s representatives. At the end of the incubator Bitcove won the award, but then just a few months later our accounts were frozen and eventually closed.”
Eircoin is another crypto firm that has suffered from the clampdown. It is one of Ireland’s oldest bitcoin brokers and has closed some months ago. An affiliated consulting business was also not given banking services. Eircoin’s co-founder, Dave Fleming said as quoted by the Irish daily that: “We are being shuttered due to a negligent and defensive banking system.”
He added that his company, as well as other cryptocurrency sellers, had previously consulted with the Central Bank of Ireland and they were told that as long as they were abiding by the regulations, their dealings were in line with the law.
In a statement, Bank of Ireland which is one of the four largest Irish commercial banks said it was not providing banking services to virtual currency exchange platforms. However, the bank noted that its customers were not stopped from transacting cryptocurrency.
Another “Big Four” bank, AIB Group denied it was refusing services to companies from the crypto sector. A spokesman was quoted saying, “We don’t discriminate in relation to providing banking services to cryptocurrency companies nor have we been systematically exiting such companies.” The spokesman said that some of the businesses are unable to comply with the ‘anti-money laundering and know your customer’ requirements that the bank has to adhere to.