The narrative seems to be changing for a country once known as a crypto haven as Portuguese banks are now closing the accounts of digital currency trading platforms.
According to multiple media reports including Expresso and Bloomberg, banks that have cracked down trading platforms include Banco Comercial Portugues (BCP) and Banco Santander, as well as Caixa Geral de Depósitos, BiG, and Abanca.
Citing “risk management” related reasons for why they chose to close the accounts of these trading platforms, the country’s Central Bank, the Bank of Portugal seems to have no grudge against these banks despite the fact that the affected exchanges are fully licensed to operate in the nation.
“The decision to open or maintain bank accounts depends, in these cases, on the risk management policies that each banking institution intends to undertake”, says Banco de Portugal.
The affected crypto trading firms include Criptoloja, Mind The Coin, and Luso Digital Assets alongside a fourth exchange that chooses not to be named.
The closure of these firms’ accounts have not just steered them into a whole new level of strain to conduct their businesses, but it has largely pushed some to seek alternatives in other European nation.
Acting Under the Perception of Risks
Speaking to Bloomberg, CriptoLoja, one of the largest trading firms in Portugal said it has always abided by established Anti Money Laundering (AML) provisions.
While this does not explain the reasons why the trading firms’ accounts were closed, a perfect insight was highlighted by a Santander spokesperson who noted that the bank moved in “accordance with its perception of risk” and that decisions to close, open, or maintain accounts depend on “several factors.”
It is highly unclear the path Portugal wishes to take when it comes to digital currencies in the country as the lawmakers have been somewhat divided on how to regulate the industry.
Minority lawmakers have earlier introduced a proposal to impose a crypto tax on stakeholders in the ecosystem, and while this move is currently frustrating, many believe that the majority party may wield a bigger influence that may change the narrative if it chooses to also introduce its own version of crypto oversight.
In all, Portugal seems to be moving in tandem with other European nations, and if for anything, the days when the country has been tagged a haven for crypto firms might be over.
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