The Brewing Bitcoin Showdown in Sweden
Sweden’s Bitcoin Party (“Bitcoinpartiet”) has published its election manifesto for what it aims to achieve in Sweden’s general election on September 14.
Sweden’s Bitcoin Party (“Bitcoinpartiet”), which Cointelegraph first reported on in July, has published its election manifesto, or its outline for what it aims to achieve in Sweden’s general election on September 14.
The English version of the manifesto is not yet ready, but a Google translation of the text is sufficient for at least understanding the party’s platform:
“There are tens of thousands bitcoin users in Sweden, and the number is constantly increasing.
“But Sweden's banks have their own views on this, and they have on several occasions acted arbitrarily in matters involving bitcoin and bitcoin users.
“Several companies who are veterans in the fast growing bitcoin market have previously had their accounts and funds temporarily frozen and blocked in various manners … . Customers of companies working with bitcoin have had funds frozen only because they transacted in bitcoin, nothing else.
“Often such behavior is excused by equating bitcoin and criminal activity of all kinds. That them begins to feel tiring, to use plain language. There is nothing to indicate that a holder of bitcoin would be more criminal than a person with cash in your pocket. Quite the opposite, actually, especially considering that cash is a completely anonymous means of payment, which bitcoin is not.
“Bitcoinpartiet goes to the polls on the idea that it should not be allowed for banks or other actors in the traditional economy to arbitrary thwart innovative companies, which are registered with the appropriate authorities (Companies Registration Office, Tax Office, FSA, etc.).”
The party’s position regarding banks freezing the accounts of individuals and businesses is directly related to an event involving Länsförsäkringar — a bank as well as one of Sweden’s biggest insurance companies — and Goobit AB, the parent company of BTCX.
On July 2, the bank warned Goobit AB that its accounts with the bank would be frozen as a result of the business’ activity with Bitcoin. The warning had a two-month lead time, and on Tuesday the account was frozen.
“We have had really good and transparent business partnership up until date point,” Goobit business developer and digital strategist Patrik Forsberg said. “And we follow Swedish laws, which are regulated under the Finansinstitutet. [It] does all the KYC and AML. But that didn’t matter. It was the fact that we were handling bitcoins that was the problem.”
Here is what the bank wrote about protecting its customers, as reported on Swedish finance blog Cornucopia and translated via Google:
"Bitcoin is a virtual currency in that it is not subject to any specific regulation or European law, so if the exchange goes bankrupt or chopped basis, you can get rid of with all your "money." Against this background and the information we have today, we see that the risk is high in the companies that use virtual currency exchanger that concept and therefore we have decided that they do not get open, or having accounts with us.
“We can, out of confidentiality, not comment on individuals' bank accounts."
Forsberg has since called for Swedish bitcoin users to boycott Länsförsäkringar, though he notes that BTCX’s business activities will continue as normal.
“The bitcoin industry wishes only that the Swedish banks should treat all businesses equally and provide service to all,” Forsberg said in a release. “What they actually are required by law to do.”
“What in fact happens is that the old traditional banks are so afraid of their positions and their market that is willing to do anything to hold onto the grip.”
Beyond One Company’s Accounts
This is the point where it should be mentioned that Goobit CEO Christian Ander is also Bitcoinpartiet’s leader. Forsberg said he also supports Bitcoinpartiet.
“We felt it was about time to make a statement and encourage other companies and users to do the same in similar situations,” he said. “I think it is the right time to start to stand up for our rights as bitcoin users.
“Another private person is even afraid to go public because he is waiting for his money [from Länsförsäkringar], and that we feel such behavior is not OK, and that’s why bitcoin is so important.”
Back to Bitconpartiet’s Manifesto
“If a bank sees reason to freeze assets or force accounts to close, then they should do so. The difference that Bitcoinpartiet wants to work to achieve is that when a bank acts in this way, it must take an expedited process where the judicial system is connected — and with respect for privacy controls — to determine whether the bank’s stated reasons for closing an account is in agreement with justice.
“If it is not, a prosecutor should be able to rule fairly quickly, the bank's decision should be immediately suspended, and the customer should be able to start a process to receive compensation for the damage it may have suffered due to the incident.
“Bitcoinpartiet supports the choice of the individual and the entrepreneur's freedom and rights!”
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