Several bitcoin investors in Australia are claiming that the country’s “Big Four” banks are freezing their accounts, while CoinSpot said it was placing a “temporary restriction on all forms of AUD deposits” until next week as a result of issues with Australian banks.
As the Sydney Morning Herald reports, “Cryptocurrency trader and Youtuber Alex Saunders called out National Australia Bank, ANZ, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac Banking Corporation on Twitter for freezing customer accounts and transfers to four different bitcoin exchanges – CoinJar, CoinSpot, CoinBase and BTC Markets.”
So @NAB @CommBank @WestpacNZ and @ANZ_AU are all freezing customer accounts and transfers to @BTCMarkets @coinspotau @GetCoinJar @coinbase . #Banks can fight it, but people want control of their money #ausbiz #auspol
— Nugget's News Australia (@nugget_alex) December 28, 2017
Another twitter user, Machaela Juric who goes by the handle “Bitcoin Babe,” said her business accounts were closed by 30 banks (!?), posting a picture of an account closure letter.
This is a letter I received a few weeks ago. Also included was a T&C's booklet. I've highlighted the clause they are referring to.
I have a PTY/LTD company, paying tax, registered with the OAIC and conduct all relevant KYC/AML/CTF checks. pic.twitter.com/DShAZPIjyi
— Bitcoin Babe (@BitcoinBabeAU) December 29, 2017
Juric shared account closure letters with Farifax Media from 10 institutions, with one suggesting she had received fraudulent funds.
She said banks were not the “be all and end all of accepting payments” for Bitcoin and there were other avenues to transfer funds.
An ANZ spokeswoman said it “does not prohibit customers buying digital currencies”.
The banks won’t say whether bitcoin activity was causing specific accounts to be frozen or closed, however some banks’ terms and conditions reference bitcoin.
Counspot halts Australian transactions
As a result of Australian banking difficulties, cryptocurrency exchange CoinSpot issued a “temporary restriction on all forms of AUD deposits” until next week.
“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 company said in a statement.
Things could get interesting for Bitcoin and its crypto-peers as central banks begin to enact long-threatened regulations on digital currencies.
On Thursday, Bitcoin was down over 11 percent after South Korea – thought to be around 20% of global bitcoin trades, announced new regulations aimed at money laundering – which include the closure of anonymous accounts next month and a ban on new anonymous accounts. Regulators can also close virtual exchanges at will.
Oddly, after the South Korea announcement, Bitcoin, Litecoin and Ethereum all struggled to stay aloft, while Ripple took off:
The new South Korea regulations are said to target money laundering and other financial crimes, and include the closure of anonymous accounts next month, a ban on new anonymous accounts, the ability for regulators to close virtual currency exchanges at will.
“Officials share the view that virtual currency trading is overheating irrationally … and we can no longer overlook this abnormal speculative situation,” Hong Nam-ki, thw South Korean minister for government policy co-ordination said. Anonymous accounts currently in use will be closed next month, it added, without explaining how it planned to do this. –The Telegraph
South Korea’s announcement follows Vietnam’s central bank banning bitcoin as a “lawful means of payment” in October – ruling that the “issuance, supply, use of bitcoin and other similar virtual currency as a means of payment is prohibited.” When the law goes into effect on January 1, 2018 – illegal use of cryptocurrencies will result in fines between $6,600 – $8,800 USD.
Moreover, India’s Finance ministry issued an official statement Friday cautioning against trading in cryptocurrencies – likening them to “Ponzi schemes” and suggesting that participants in digital currencies do so “entirely at their risk and should best avoid participating therein.”
“There is a real and heightened risk of investment bubble of the type seen in Ponzi schemes”, which could result in a sudden and prolonged crash, the ministry said, adding that encrypted cryptocurrency transactions were likely used in things such as “terror-funding, smuggling, drug trafficking and other money laundering acts.”
Slowly but surely – the likes of Jamie Dimon realize they can’t shit-talk cryptocurrencies out of existence – so they’re doing the next best thing; regulating them until they’re no fun anymore. And if Australian banks are indeed freezing accounts of crypto traders, it looks like the war between central banks and cryptocurrencies is only heating up.If you enjoy the content at iBankCoin, please follow us on Twitter