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This week News.Bitcoin.com carried the breaking story alleging employees of giant Northern European bank Nordea were being forbidden by company policy from owning or trading cryptocurrency. Since publication, a bank employee, who wishes to remain anonymous, forwarded evidence the large institution is indeed going ahead with such plans.
Nordea Bank Whistleblower
Word spread 12 January 2018 on Twitter Nordea Bank “forbids all their employees (at least in Sweden) to stop owning and trading $ btc and other crypto currency. This applies to secretaries, IT personal [sic], cleaners and any bank staff employed by the company. Is it legal even?,” asked Twitter user @samisin.
Nordea Bank AB has more than half a trillion dollars in assets, and is one of the largest banks in Northern Europe. Its alleged move against employees’ cryptocurrencies were not all that surprising when placed in the backdrop of the bank’s executive team’s disparaging public comments. Executives have long worried about cryptocurrency and its lack of regulation, and more recently complained about the fact bitcoin was allowed to exist without jumping through all the hoops of the traditional banking system, referring to the phenomenon as “a joke.”
Bitcoin’s value, however, is exactly that: it could not have existed if brought through the regular cartel channel of state-backed banks such as Nordea. Its precise reason for being is to defy minders and bureaucratic middle persons, landing in the hands of ordinary, uncredentialed and unlicensed peoples.
After News.Bitcoin.com published the story, a whistleblower came forward with documentation on the assurance of anonymity.
According to memorandums obtained by News.Bitcoin.com, a decision by Nordea’s board was made 13 December 2017. The message’s import was to affirm no employees of the bank were allowed to trade bitcoin nor other cryptocurrencies. When queried about what to do with crypto already held by employees, an answer was not immediately forthcoming.
Trade Union Might Take Up Cause
The memos were pulled from Yammer, a social networking site used by some businesses for private communication. Its network is open by invite only.
A second communication from the bank further outlined coming policy: The ban will be effective late February due to “its highly speculative nature, including high investment/volatility risk, and the related tax evasion and money laundering risks,” the source details. New rules also include how unless “otherwise stated, the rules set forth in this section apply to all transactions. Therefore, it is irrelevant whether they are carried out on [a personal] account, on behalf of a Closely Related Person, a customer, the Group, or on behalf of another party within or outside the scope of work,” the memo reads.
Furthermore, “No Employee, Service Provider or Tied Agent at the Group may: Conduct trading in Bitcoins and other Cryptocurrencies.” Exemptions are being provided for if investments “in financial instruments manufactured by Nordea linked to cryptocurrencies. Further, the prohibition does not cover minor investments in cryptocurrency made by employees in product development roles who have a work-related reason to do so, and where the respective Head of the BA/GF has pre-approved the investment following consultation with Group Compliance,” the bank explained. There appears to also be “special circumstances” clause as well.
When the anonymous source was asked about employees’ feelings on the matter, “Regarding the workers, as far as I know many care and think this policy is way to far reaching when it comes to their right to own whatever legal property they wish, and therefore complaints have also been made to the union Finansförbundet,” we were told.
As a result of “complaints by employees,” the 33,000 member trade union Financial Sector Union of Sweden, Finansförbundet, representing bank employees, is reportedly set to discuss a formal response during an internal meeting this Tuesday, 16 January 2018.
What are your thoughts about bank prohibiting employees from owning bitcoin? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Pixabay, Twitter, Finansförbundet.
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The post Whistleblower Details Big Bank’s Plans to Prohibit Employees Owning Bitcoin appeared first on Bitcoin News.
A giant Northern European bank, Nordea, has allegedly enacted a company policy which forbids its employees from owning or trading in bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. The bank’s current executive team have a long history of on-the-record skepticism toward bitcoin.
Also read: Banks in India Block Crypto Accounts
Nordea Bank Allegedly Forbids Employees from Owning Crypto
The once Swedish bank Nordea Bank AB, now headquartered in Finland (home of its largest shareholder) has reportedly forbade all of its employees from owning or trading in bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. The alleged move might not be a surprise to long-term watchers of the bank and its executive team.
Chairman Björn Wahlroos’ opinions on bitcoin go back to at least 2014, and he lamented then the decentralized currency’s supposed anonymous properties and its lack of inflation — two aspects most enthusiasts cherish. More recently, Nordea’s President and CEO Casper von Koskull dismissed bitcoin altogether, calling it “a joke.”
Mr. von Koskull explained, “If you somehow allow that to live without controls, then, given the billions we spend on financial regulation as a financial system, I mean, I think it’s actually a joke that you then just let something like bitcoin live. I don’t get it – it’s absurd.”
Joke or not, it’s evidently too hot for the bank’s employees. Nordea is listed on three exchanges and has over a thousand brick and mortar branches serving more than a dozen countries. It boasts nearly twenty million customers, retail and corporate, and has another over five million online users. Its market capitalization is nearing half a trillion dollars.
In a tweet, @samisin wrote, “Nordea Bank forbids all their employees (at least in Sweden) to stop owning and trading $ btc and other crypto currency. This applies to secretaries, IT personal, cleaners and any bank staff employed by the company. Is it legal even?” Commenters railed against the notion, citing violations of basic rights.
In some professional circles, such as journalism, it’s often assumed a conflict of interest to own or have financial stake in that which a company or employee is presumed to have objective contact. New York Times writer Nathaniel Popper has outright refused to own bitcoin so as to not appear tainted in his coverage. Famously, JP Morgan Chase through its CEO Jamie Dimon threatened to “fire” anyone even suspected of dabbling in bitcoin. For bitcoiners, however, there is a glaring double standard.
Does Mr. Popper not use fiat currency? And if so, using his ethical logic, wouldn’t that make him biased toward government paper and against bitcoin? It’s easy to get caught in traps like these, especially when it is just a pretense or only perverse virtue signalling. Banks have long fretted about cryptocurrency and its “risky” and “speculative” nature. But even those concerns fall rather flat when one considers deals these same banks are engaged.
For example, Nordea was just involved in what’s known as a “capital relief deal,” which ironically pushes risk on investors (in this case to almost 10 billion USD) in loans. This is also known as “synthetic securitizations,” and they function to lessen the amount of reserves banks must have on hand against losses. Nordea was headlong in the deal until it abruptly pulled out altogether.
“Nordea dropped those plans as it embarks on an overhaul to eliminate 6,000 jobs,” Bloomberg reported. Clearly shredding thousands of jobs goes to the bank’s concern about employee wellbeing.
On the brighter side, those former Nordea employees might now be able to own bitcoin.
What is your experience with banks and crypto? Let us know in the comments below.
Images: Pixabay,Twitter, Nordea.
The post Swedish Bank Allegedly Forbids Employees from Owning Cryptocurrency appeared first on Bitcoin News.
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Japanese conglomerate GMO Internet Group has introduced a payroll system to allow its 4,700+ employees to receive part of their salaries in bitcoin.
GMO Introduces Bitcoin Salary Payment System
Japanese Internet leader GMO Group has announced that its employees can start receiving part of their salaries in bitcoin beginning in February of next year for the March pay period. This option will initially only be available to employees of GMO Internet Co. Ltd but it will gradually extend to the entire group, the company detailed in its announcement on Monday. According to the company’s website, GMO Internet has 4,710 full-time employees as of September this year.
The company also listed 42 subsidiaries on its website which are part of the GMO Group. They include GMO Coins, the company’s cryptocurrency subsidiary, and GMO Click, one of the world’s largest FX platforms.
In order to facilitate salary payments in bitcoin, the company explained:
The GMO Internet Group has decided to introduce a system that allows part of the salary payment to be received as bitcoin in order to promote ownership of our domestic employees’ virtual currency.
The minimum bitcoin payment will initially be 10,000 yen (~$ 88) and the upper limit will be 100,000 yen (~$ 881). Each salary payment in yen will be reduced by the amount of bitcoin payment paid, using the exchange rate at the GMO Coins exchange. Employees who create an account at the GMO Coins exchange “can receive bitcoin on the same day as their payday,” Nikkei described.
GMO Promoting Crypto From Within
Following the launch of its cryptocurrency trading platform in May, GMO announced in September its plans to begin a mining business. The company plans to spend 10 billion yen in the next few years to build a mining farm as well as to research and develop 7nm, 5nm, and 3.5nm mining chips. In October, GMO announced that it plans to sell mining boards equipped with 7nm chips using token sales.
In Monday’s announcement, the company stated, “The mining business is currently preparing for the start of business beginning in January 2018.”
“The GMO Internet Group will contribute to the development of virtual currencies in the world by promoting efforts related to virtual currency throughout the group,” the company noted, adding that:
In order to further strengthen these approaches to virtual currency, it is important for employees to actively use virtual currency first by improving [their] virtual currency literacy.
What do you think of GMO offering to pay their employees in bitcoin? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock and GMO Group.
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The post Japanese Internet Giant GMO Offers to Pay 4700+ Employees in Bitcoin appeared first on Bitcoin News.
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