Corporate clients of NatWest may soon lose their banking relationship with the United Kingdom-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 refuse service to business customers that accept cryptocurrency payments.
Friis made the bank’s position known during Wednesday’s shareholder event, stating:
“We have no appetite for dealing with customers, whether taking them on as new clients or having an ongoing relationship with people, whose main business is backed by an exchange for cryptocurrencies, or otherwise transacting in cryptocurrencies as their main activity.”
Friis’ comments echo similar sentiments recently attributed to HSBC, another U.K. bank, that used identical statements in announcing its decision to bar customers 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 in the year.
According to Friis, the bank’s decision is borne out of the need to proceed cautiously with cryptocurrencies, given the emerging nature of the industry’s regulatory landscape. The NatWest board member added that the bank will continue to monitor the evolution of cryptocurrency regulations from the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority.
Back in March, the FCA mandated all U.K. crypto firms to begin submitting yearly financial crimes reports.
In addition to withholding banking services to corporate clients involved in crypto, Friis also stated that NatWest will increase its financial crimes scrutiny for personal account holders dealing in cryptocurrencies.
Friis pointed to the money laundering and illicit financial activities as justification for its increased security checks on individual clients engaging in crypto activities.
However, numerous studies notably show that criminal activities only constitute a minute proportion of global cryptocurrency commerce.