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NatWest, a commercial bank in the United Kingdom, has confirmed that it would not conduct business with clients and consumers who trade with cryptocurrency.
Following recent negative cryptocurrency-related policy declarations, corporate clients of NatWest may soon lose their banking relationship with the United Kingdom-based lender.
According to a report by The Guardian, Morten Friis, the head of the bank’s risk committee, has revealed that NatWest will refuse service to business customers that accept cryptocurrency payments.
Friis stated the bank’s stance during Wednesday’s shareholder meeting, saying:
“We have no appetite for dealing with customers, whether taking them on as new clients or having an ongoing relationship with people, whose main business is backed by an exchange for cryptocurrencies, or otherwise transacting in cryptocurrencies as their main activity.”
Friis’ remarks echo similar concerns expressed recently by HSBC, another U.K. bank, which used equivalent language in announcing its decision to exclude customers from purchasing MicroStrategy stock. HSBC’s anti-crypto stand included the bank’s refusal earlier this year to encourage account holders to deposit earnings from cryptocurrency exchanges.
According to Friis, the bank’s decision stems from the need to deal with cryptocurrencies with caution, given the industry’s regulatory landscape’s nascent existence. The NatWest board member also stated that the bank would continue to track the Financial Conduct Authority’s evolution of cryptocurrency regulations.
The FCA ordered all U.K. crypto companies to begin filing annual financial crimes reports in March.
Meanwhile, the NatWest executive’s remarks may have far-reaching consequences for corporate clients such as WeWork and Tesla, all of which have confirmed plans to allow cryptocurrency payments.
Friis has reported that NatWest would expand its financial fraud scrutiny for personal account holders trading in cryptocurrencies, in addition to withholding banking services to corporate clients interested in crypto.
Friis cited money laundering and other illegal financial practises as justification for expanded background checks on individual crypto customers.
Numerous surveys, though, indicate that illegal activities account for a negligible portion of global cryptocurrency trade.