NatWest corporate clients could soon lose their banking relationship with the UK-based lender amid recent negative cryptocurrency-related policy statements.
According to a report by The Guardian, Morten Friis, the head of the bank’s risk committee, has revealed that NatWest will deny service to corporate clients accepting cryptocurrency payments.
Friis disclosed the bank’s position at Wednesday’s shareholders’ event, stating:
“We don’t feel like dealing with customers, whether we hire them as new customers or have an ongoing relationship with people whose main business is backed by an exchange for cryptocurrencies, or otherwise transactions in cryptocurrencies as their main business.”
Friis’ comments echo similar sentiments recently attributed to HSBC, another UK bank, which used identical statements in announcing its decision to ban clients from buying MicroStrategy stock. HSBC’s anti-crypto stance also saw the bank refuse to allow account holders to deposit profits from cryptocurrency exchanges earlier this year.
According to Friis, the bank’s decision stems from the need to exercise caution with cryptocurrencies given the emerging nature of the sector’s regulatory landscape. The NatWest board member added that the bank will continue to monitor the evolution of cryptocurrency regulations from the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority.
In March, the FCA mandated all UK crypto companies to file annual reports on financial crimes.
Meanwhile, the NatWest director’s comments could have significant implications for corporate clients such as WeWork and Tesla, who have announced plans to accept crypto payments.
In addition to withholding banking services from corporate clients involved in crypto, Friis also stated that NatWest will increase its control of financial crimes for personal account holders dealing in cryptocurrencies.
Friis pointed to money laundering and illegal financial activities as justification for the increased security checks on individual clients involved in crypto activities.
However, numerous studies in particular show that criminal activity is only a small part of the global cryptocurrency trade.