Banco Santander Totta, the Portuguese branch of Spanish bank Santander, is reportedly halting bitcoin-related transactions, according to local publication ECO. Per the publication, the bank has recently started blocking transactions from various cryptocurrency exchanges, claiming these exchanges are transacting in non-regulated financial products.
In an email the bank sent to a client who complained he couldn’t transfer funds from the San-Francisco based exchange Coinbase to his bank account, the bank stated that Coinbase is an entity dedicated to buying and selling digital currencies, and that Santander Totta doesn’t transact operations related to unregulated digital currencies, meaning the clients’ transactions would never go through.
According to ECO, a who client managed to speak with a bank employee through a personalized service dubbed “Superlinha” claims the employee confirmed the existence of an internal directive to block transfers using Coinbase’s IBAN. On social media, the issue has seemingly been initially brought up near the end of 2017, a few days before Christmas. In response, various users simply changed banks.
Coinbase isn’t the only platform Santander Totta is refusing to process transactions from. Earlier this week, a Facebook user revealed that Bitstamp wasn’t an option for Santander Totta’s clients, as Bitstamp informed him that the bank wasn’t processing transactions that “originate from bitcoin-related businesses.”
The blockade doesn’t seem to be complete, however, as various reportedly manage to send and receive funds from other cryptocurrency exchanges such as Kraken. Others, in an attempt to bypass Santader Totta’s move, have been omitting the recipient’s name when transferring the funds. Notably, Santander Totta reportedly processes transaction in Ripple’s XRP token.
As reported by CCN, Portugal’s central bank, Bank of Portugal, has in the past stated that bitcoin has no legal tender in the country, nor a central authority controlling it. Nevertheless, there are several digital currency organizations in the European Union the financial regulator authorizes, and Coinbase is one of them.
In an attempt to know more, ECO contacted the central bank, which didn’t address Santander Totta’s blockade, but instead just restated that bitcoin has no central authority controlling it, and that, given the lack of regulations, no cryptocurrency-related business has to register with the financial institution.
A few banks in the country, including Banco CTT, Caixa Geral de Depósitos, and Novo Banco revealed potential clients can use their services to transfer to and from regulated cryptocurrency exchanges.
Others, including Montepio and BPI, refused to comment, although various users claim no transactions are blocked. As reported by CCN, Portugal is a country that wants to tax bitcoin users despite a lack of regulations, and in which the Securities Market Commission (CMVM) is supervising banks and brokerages on the “bitcoin euphoria.”
Last year, Bank of Portugal issued a warning against OneCoin, the purported altcoin scheme widely seen as a scam The country’s Finance Minister and Eurogroup president Mário Centeno, as reported, has stated he is confident regulators are overseeing bitcoin’s impact.
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