Why British HSBC Bans Bitcoin and Cryptocurrencies

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The biggest bank in the UK with reserves refuses to invest in cryptocurrency markets.

The Sunday Times reports that HSBC will neither process cryptocurrency payments nor facilitate wallet-to-bank transactions.

The London-based newspaper adds that although other major banks allow cryptocurrency payments from digital wallets to consumer bank accounts, many would restrict credit card purchases whether it includes purchasing or selling bitcoin (BTC).

The news arrives a few days after Bitcoin’s all-time record of $41,941 was printed.

The Sunday Times explains that crypto holders who wish to cash in their gains must turn their shares into fiat money, such as euro or sterling, before the bank can receive the funds. Digital asset holders face the risk of holding their assets in a crypto exchange until they can locate a bank that suits their needs.

The study coincides with an alert from the UK Financial Regulator, Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), that cryptocurrency investors are at risk of losing their whole investment.

“Investing in cryptoassets, or investments and lending linked to them, generally involves taking very high risks with investors’ money. If consumers invest in these types of product, they should be prepared to lose all their money.”

In October, the FCA banned the sale of crypto-derivatives to retail consumers.

“The FCA considers these products to be ill-suited for retail consumers due to the harm they pose. These products cannot be reliably valued by retail consumers because of the: 

  • inherent nature of the underlying assets, which means they have no reliable basis for valuation
  • prevalence of market abuse and financial crime in the secondary market (eg cyber theft)
  • extreme volatility in cryptoasset price movements
  • inadequate understanding of cryptoassets by retail consumers
  • lack of legitimate investment need for retail consumers to invest in these products.”

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