The Polish Bitcoin Association (PBS) is launching a challenge to banks over alleged refusals to provide their services to firms in the business of cryptocurrencies.
Poland has not had the best history with cryptocurrencies. Back in March Toshi Times asked whether the European nation was becoming a crypto-authoritarian state after it was argued that under new taxation arrangements for cryptocurrency, investors might end up paying more than 100% of their earnings in tax. Further back than that, it emerged that the Polish Central Bank was slipping anti-crypto ads into YouTube videos in an attempt to dissuade would-be investors from taking on the risk.
Now it seems the approach is getting more blunt; a number of crypto-related businesses in the country allege that they have been refused service by banks because of their links with cryptocurrency. In response to this, the Polish Bitcoin Association (PBS) has sent an appeal to the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (OCCP) to intervene under breach of competition rules. The letter was filed on the 26th of June.
Inside it, the PBS is said to have named 15 institutions which are said to have denied services to 52 entities, as well as closing the accounts of 25 entities. The PBS goes on to allege that a full list of these refusals is held by MBank, one of the nations largest financial institutions, which itself apparently made 9 refusals and closed 3 accounts associated with crypto.
It remains however unclear whether the OCCP will pursue the case.
Poland’s seemingly conservative attitude toward cryptocurrency in the past has aroused fears of where the country will head regarding the new asset class. Some have aired fears that it may take a lead from more hard-line examples like China in its conservatism. However, despite the government’s apparently negative stance, it remains true that there have been no actual laws passed targeting cryptocurrency directly; a draft bill to combat money laundering remains the most significant piece of legal coding. Aleksandra Wiktorow, the Polish Financial Ombudsman has also called on regulation to not be “excessive”; what shape Polish regulation may eventually take is nevertheless still not decided, and may surprise us yet.
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Alex has been putting words on paper since he was old enough to hold a pen; when he bought his first bitcoin in January 2017, those words discovered their place within crypto as well. He holds a master’s degree in international relations from Leiden University in the Netherlands, and his special expertise lies in European cryptocurrency regulation.