UK banks are getting tougher with customers using cryptocurrencies. Last week, two of the country’s biggest banks – Nationwide and HSBC – banned everyday purchases or credit cards for shoppers from buying cryptocurrency.
It’s not just these two: Many banks have tightened up over the past year. Some took a hard line after the fall of mega digital asset exchange FTX in November.
According to most high street banks with limits, the crackdown is to protect investors from cryptocurrency fraud. “We want to do everything we can to protect our customers, and controlling payments to cryptocurrency exchanges is the best way to ensure your money is safe,” Santander says.
So what are the current rules? Here’s a look at which banks are cryptocurrency-friendly for the retail investor.
across the country
A leading national high street bank said this week it was introducing new restrictions “to try to protect you and keep your money safe”. Customers can no longer buy cryptocurrencies with credit and debit cards, and daily limits are £5,000 ($5,965).
HSBC imposed tougher rules this week. Now customers cannot buy digital assets from exchanges using credit cards. HSBC account holders can buy cryptocurrencies by debit card through regulated platforms in the UK, but not on exchanges such as Coinbase.
The banking firm said it has no interest in bitcoin and has banned customers from buying shares in companies linked to bitcoin.
Lloyds allows its customers to buy cryptocurrencies through regulated platforms in the UK and opts out of exchanges such as Coinbase – but only accepts debit cards. It was one of the first UK banks to stop buying cryptocurrencies with credit cards in 2018.
Alison Ross, chief executive of NatWest Group, said last month that the bank had “taken a very hard line as a bank on cryptocurrencies”. In 2021, the bank banned corporate clients from handling cryptocurrencies. This means companies such as UK-based cryptocurrency exchanges cannot hold an account with NatWest.
But now, according to the bank, “this does not mean that we will completely block cryptocurrency payments, but we will limit payments to cryptocurrency exchanges that pose a high risk of financial harm.” You can use a NatWest account to buy digital assets from exchanges like Coinbase. Although NatWest did not disclose the exact amount, according to the bank, the amounts are limited.
Barclays Bank does not allow customers to buy or sell cryptocurrencies through its online banking platform. Prospective investors can purchase cryptocurrencies through an FCA-regulated and authorized broker.
Santander Bank announced last year that it would limit UK customers from large cryptocurrency transactions. Currently, Santander account holders can make single transactions of £1,000 with a total limit of £3,000 in any 30-day period.
Wise, formerly known as TransferWise, does not deal in Cryptocurrencies in any way. You may not use the Account to purchase Digital Assets from an Exchange. But if cryptocurrencies are regulated in the EU or the UK, prudent customers can withdraw funds to their accounts from a platform that deals in cryptocurrencies.
Cryptocurrencies can be bought on major established exchanges such as Coinbase (but not Binance), along with popular challenger bank Monzo, but that “may block a small number of transactions based on risk.” The bank did not say how big or small these transactions were.
Challenger bank Starling is one of the strictest: it has banned customers from making cryptocurrency-related payments. “We consider cryptocurrency activity to be high risk,” the bank said in November. Starling customers told Decrypt that the change was sudden.
This challenger bank is the most cryptocurrency-friendly of all: users can buy, sell and store various digital currencies through the mobile banking app. Last month, the bank launched a betting service for Ethereum, Cardano, Polkadot and Tezos.
*Translated and edited with his permission Encryption.
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