Santander becomes yet another of the large banks to impose restrictions on customer interaction with cryptocurrencies.
High risk for customers?
Santander has announced on its website that it will be imposing limits on customer’s using their accounts to buy cryptocurrencies. The reasons given by the bank is that crypto is “high risk”, that there is an increase in cryptocurrency fraud for UK customers, and that there is unlikely to be any protection if things go wrong.
In the message to customers Santander provides a link that points to the Financial Conduct Authority website and an article dated January of 2021 where the FCA warned UK consumers about investing in crypto assets that promised high returns.
The Santender message to customers includes the following statement:
“We want to do everything we can to protect our customers and we feel that limiting payments to cryptocurrency exchanges is the best way to make sure your money stays safe.”
The message also argues that money held in crypto wallets is unlikely to be protected by the Financial Ombudsman Service or the Financial Services Compensation Scheme should anything go wrong.
The message goes on to say that the limit on customer spending on cryptocurrency payments will be £1000 per transaction, and a limit of £3,000 will be applied to any rolling 30-day period.
The bank also adds that it will be making more changes to “prevent” or “limit” payments to crypto exchanges in the future. It doesn’t say when these changes will be imposed but does say that customers will be informed before this takes place.
The message ends by saying that the bank will continue to stop any payments being made to Binance. It quotes the FCA warning to consumers as regards this particular crypto exchange.
Times have changed indeed when your bank can state with complete authority and to limited opposition exactly who or to what entity all of its customers can or cannot send their money to.
This is nothing new and other banks in the UK have imposed a similar sanctioning of their customer’s crypto dealings. For example, HSBC has blocked any crypto transactions from its customer’s bank accounts since January 2021, although oddly, more recently, the bank announced a partnership with crypto metaverse project The Sandbox.
Is “how dare they!” too strong an exclamation? After all, we are just the customers of the banks. But can the banks be allowed to decide who you can and can’t transact with?
If a client decides that they want to make a higher risk investment into a cryptocurrency, or for that matter, into anything they themselves decide, then the bank should keep out of the matter entirely.
It can be argued that banks do not like the competition that the crypto sector is undoubtedly bringing with it. However, stopping its clients from transacting in them really is a step too far.
Banks should be the custodians of customer’s finances and not the arbiters of what their clients decide to do with their own money. Isn’t this how banking originally started out?
Banks right now are grappling with obsolescence. The impending arrival of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) leaves no place for them. Their only chance is to embrace and provide services for crypto. Santander take note.
Disclaimer: This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.
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