ING Bank has enabled customers to purchase bitcoin with their accounts, backpedaling following an uproar from the Bitcoin community.
The events come somewhat as a surprise, as the bank had previously given the impression as a highly-progressive, bitcoin-friendly institution. The bank produced a video presentation on Bitcoin nearly one year ago. In outlining its virtues and shortcomings, the bank suggested that if a new algorithm were implemented that balances supply and demand, the inventors would qualify for the Nobel Prize in Economics.
More recently, the bank hosted its second annual ‘Nationaal Bitcoin Congres’, hosted at its global headquarters in Amsterdam.
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But things got interesting when customers were apparently unable to purchase bitcoin from Netherlands-based brokerage Bitonic. They took to social media to vent their outrage, slamming ING and declaring their intentions to switch banks.
Not helping matters was the initial response by ING representatives, who said that “virtual currencies are outside our scope.” Another sought to justify the position by citing bitcoin’s volatility, lack of central bank oversight and risk of use for illegal activity.
Following the uproar, another representative indicated that customers can indeed buy bitcoin, and apologized for the confusion caused. Finextra says it it was informed by the bank that the representatives who had posted the earlier messages “had acted prematurely.”
This all comes as ING looks to establish its footprint in FinTech, the bank’s Belgian arm inaugurating an accelerator.