NatWest to block cryptocurrency payments following earlier FCA warning

UK retail bank NatWest will not accept payments in cryptocurrencies, according to the company’s head of risk Morten Friis.

Friis implied the company’s board is taking its cues from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), who issued a warning to cryptocurrency customers that bitcoin and other digital assets are risky investments earlier this year.

The company has also highlighted individual customers may be potentially required to undergo extra financial crime checks if they hold cryptocurrency.

The move by NatWest follows another recent decision by HSBC, who decided to remove the option to buy shares in cloud software enterprise MicroStrategy after it was found the company has over 80% of holdings in BitCoin, making its stock reliant on crypto markets. I

Friis said, “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.

The FCA recently began criminal proceedings against NatWest alleging that the company failed to follow anti-money-laundering regulations. The financial watchdog claimed NatWest’s “systems and controls failed to adequately monitor and scrutinize” significant large amounts of cash deposits made to a UK incorporated customer between 11 November 2011 and 19 October 2016.

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