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Authorities in China’s far-western Xinjiang region appear to have officially legalized so-called re-education camps for people accused of religious extremism a little more than a month after denying such centers exist.
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Two cryptocurrency exchanges from Chile have called on the country’s baking association (Asociación de Bancos e Instituciones Financieras or ABIF) to issue a clear position regarding the new industry. The companies took this step after a number of Chilean banks reportedly shut down their accounts just for dealing with cryptocurrencies.
Banks Taking the Law Into Their Own Hands
Chilean cryptocurrency exchanges are fighting for their right to open a bank account in the country in order to serve clients who are switching over from fiat. BUDA and Crypto MKT have condemned the closing of their local banking accounts and said that a bank representative told them that they had instructions to “not open an account for anyone that has relation to cryptocurrencies “.
The two companies made a joint public statement warning that: “The lack of knowledge and regulatory clarity has given rise to the fact that some banks, out of fear, misinformation or perhaps by strategy, are refusing to provide their services to anyone who has any relationship with any digital asset.” Adding that “in Chile the regulation is in the hands of a few, who are acting as de facto regulators and are opting to prohibit.”
BUDA and Crypto MKT called on ABIF to “make its position transparent” and to define whether companies linked to cryptocurrencies will have access to banking services, or if the banks “are determined to prevent the existence” of the young industry. In addition, the exchanges called for both the authorities and the public to pay attention to the issue, “before it’s too late.”
Exchanges Play By the Rules
To showcase how they are not a possible legal risk to the banks, the two exchanges highlighted that they “have developed safe platforms of the latest technology for the protection of their customers and have opened channels of collaboration with authorities”, in addition to explaining to the public the characteristics, advantages and risks of trading these type of assets. Both firms, they add, pay taxes, are registered with the relevant Chilean financial authorities, and follow standard prevention of money laundering and anti-terrorist financing guidelines.
Banks preventing exchanges from opening accounts is a problem in many places around the world, but legal victories are possible. Last month the Supreme Court of Israel issued a temporary injunction order forbidding the country’s Bank Leumi from sweepingly halting the account activity of the Bits of Gold bitcoin exchange.
How can exchanges in Chile bypass the banking system and still be able to receive fiat transfers from new clients? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
Images courtesy of Shutterstock.
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The Supreme Court of Israel issued a temporary injunction order on Monday forbidding Bank Leumi from sweepingly halting the account activity of the Bits of Gold bitcoin exchange. This is seen as a major victory in the Israeli cryptocurrency industry that will set a precedent for other bitcoin businesses struggling to get banking services.
Bits of Gold vs. Leumi
Since its inception in 2014, Bits of Gold has, which is licensed as a currency changer business, always held an account with Bank Leumi – one of the top two biggest banks in the country. In 2015, the bank decided to close its account despite the company’s meticulous conduct – only because the company deals in bitcoin, and then Bits of Gold decided to apply to the court for permission to continue using the account.
For several years Bits of Gold worked with an injunction that allowed it to act until a final verdict. A few months ago, the District Court authorized the bank not to allow Bits of Gold to trade in bitcoin, even though it praised its activities.
The company appealed this decision to the Israeli Supreme Court, which immediately issued a temporary injunction, and on Monday passed a temporary order according to which the company can trade digital coins in its account until a ruling is issued on the entire appeal.
The Supreme Court wrote: “It appears that the damages that the bank might incur are mere speculations for now. The decision of the bank is based on the assumption that the company’s activity indeed carries risks that arise in violation of the provisions of the law, and therefore the bank is liable to pay a price for the materialization of those risks. However until now, for more than five years in which the account has been operating, these fears have not materialized – as the District Court has determined that the company acted transparently and did not violate any statutory provision.”
Bank Leumi Not Giving In
“This is a precedent-setting decision whose importance can not be overemphasized in relation to the trading of digital currencies,” said lawyer Shaul Zioni of the legal firm who represented the company. “The court says banks actually can not ban the company’s activities sweepingly and that they should manage their risk.”
Yuval Roash, CEO of Bits of Gold said, “The court’s decision enables us to focus on continuing to establish the crypto community in Israel, and we will continue to lead the field in order to give digital coins the place which they deserve in the Israeli economy – as a tremendous growth engine for hi-tech and the financial industry. ”
Bank Leumi responded: “The bank respects the decion of the court. However, as long as the matter is not regulated by orderly regulatory directives, the bank’s exposure to the client’s activity in bitcoin will be valid – and not only towards the regulators in Israel who are obligated to respect the decisions of the Supreme Court, but also towards foreign regulators who do not consider themselves bound by the decisions of Israeli law. Therefore, as long as no binding legal provisions are determined by the regulator and the relevant parties, the bank will continue to manage the case until the temporary injunction is removed. ”
Should banks be allowed to refuse to open accounts for bitcoin companies? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
Images courtesy of Shutterstock.
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Bitcoiners in Australia claim banks are on purpose freezing their bank accounts, disallowing exchange transfers, and at least one exchange is over-reacting to the freeze. They’re so unnerved they’ve done what any good crypto enthusiast does: air it all on social media and in comment threads.
Australia’s Big Four Banks Freeze Crypto Accounts
Australian bitcoiners have taken, in frustration, to social media and comment threads to broadcast treatment by banks and, to a lesser degree, exchanges. In particular, Commonwealth Bank, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ), National Australia Bank (NAB), Westpac Banking Corporation, known as the “big four,” have halted exchange transfers and frozen accounts, according to enthusiasts.
Popular regional crypto exchange, Coinspot, announced a temporary hold on fiat deposits from the country in response to friction with banks. “We assure you we are just as unhappy with the situation as you, but unfortunately Australian banks have been so far unwilling to work with the digital currency industry which leads to frequent account closures and strict limits on accounts whilst they remain operational, in effect debanking our industry,” the exchange alerted.
Australian John Rudge commented on the exchange’s sudden actions, “I can’t believe what you did to your customers with your $ AUD deposit ‘debacle’. We don’t live in Zimbabwe or China, surely you saw this banking ‘crisis’ approaching,” he typed, noting the exchange knew prior what its reaction would be, and so it could have warned customers about a pending change.
“At the very least you could have given us a month’s notice so we could stockpile reserves for ourselves. I can see you didn’t want to lose customers to other services so better just keep mum about it and we’ll sell them a bullshit story about being bullied by the banks!” he raged.
Bitcoin Babe Fights The Big Four
At Commonwealth, its terms do reference bitcoin, “saying it can refuse to process an international money transfer or an international cash management transaction ‘because the destination account previously has been connected to a fraud or an attempted fraudulent transaction or is an account used to facilitate payments to Bitcoins or similar virtual currency payment services,’” noted the Sydney Morning Herald.
All big four bank spokespersons referenced anti-money laundering laws, various regulatory requirements, and none expressed outright prohibition on bitcoin-related transfers or activity. “A NAB spokeswoman said it was important to note the currencies are currently unregulated. ‘While we don’t support unregulated currencies, NAB does not deny the right of individual customers to buy virtual currencies,’” she was quoted by the Herald.
Bitcoin Babe, Michael Juric, is having none of it. She told the Herald she’s “had business accounts closed by 30 banks and posted a picture of a letter from ANZ, saying it was closing her accounts effective 30 January 2018 in accordance with its terms and conditions.” She shared ten letters closing her various accounts, “with one saying she had received fraudulent funds, though none specifically referenced cryptocurrencies,” the article explained.
“She said banks were not the ‘be all and end all of accepting payments’ for Bitcoin and there were other avenues to transfer funds.”
Have you had any issues with your bank accounts and crypto exchanges? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images: Pixabay, Bitcoin Babe.
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