The largest Nordic Bank and forex trader in the region, Stockholm-based SEB, has announced the rejection of all client requests to open accounts utilizing Bitcoin, given the propensity for aiding crime and laundering.
Despite the recent tranche of support emanating out of several online retailers and venues around the world, banks have been remarkably unilateral in their decision to abstain from Bitcoin – the risks inherent with digital currency provide a litany of uncertainties and potential hazards that have collectively discouraged banks from adopting it thus far.
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According to Johan Andersson, Chief Risk Officer at SEB in an email exchange with BusinessWeek regarding the decision, “Given the rules we have established for ourselves and rules that authorities have set up to prevent money laundering, we have currently made the decision that we cannot offer transactions, accounts or currency exchange in Bitcoin.”
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The comments come during an already tumultuous week for Bitcoin, following an outright ban by Russia’s central bank. In addition, Monday it was reported that Bitcoin Foundation Vice Chairman Charlie Shrem was federally charged for peddling the digital currency to drug traffickers, a worrying prospect that rekindles the type of stigma and woes facing Bitcoin in its infancy.
Uncertainty Over Bitcoin And Risk Of Laundering Central To Decision
Like its Russian counterpart, the Swedish government, together with the European Banking Authority have all warned of the acute risks prevalent in Bitcoin trading. As for the Swedish edict, this move is hardly surprising given Scandinavian regulators’ typically rigid stance towards global banking standards. However, the recent popularity and gradual creeping of the digital currency into the virtual payment realm has finally begun to elicit a response out of regional banks.
“We have received requests from companies that want to open accounts to manage Bitcoin, and we have so far declined. When we make decisions regarding corporate customers, we need to understand the business, there needs to be a sustainable business plan and routines for following money laundering rules,” Andersson added.
(Images courtesy of SEB Group)