Business Technology

Sunday 31 August 2014

Irish banks 'refuse to let Bitcoin firm open account'

Published 27/03/2014 | 02:30

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The digital currency, Bitcoin.
The digital currency, Bitcoin.

Irish banks may be taking a hard line on firms operating in the virtual currency Bitcoin, according to a prominent Bitcoin company that says it has been refused a bank account here.

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Bitvendo, which provides Bitcoin ATMs, said that representatives of both Bank of Ireland and AIB have said that it may not open bank accounts at the bank because of the nature of their business.

"We do understand that the banks are still trying to figure out this issue and for now it's simpler for them just to say no," said Alan Donohoe, founder of the Bitcoin Foundation of Ireland.

"But the refusal by two major Irish banks to open an account for a Bitcoin related business is stifling beneficial innovation."

Earlier this month, the company set up its first Bitcoin ATM in Abbey Street.

A spokesman for Bank of Ireland said that it would not comment on individual cases.

The spokesman also said that the bank did not wish to comment on whether it has a policy precluding bank accounts for businesses operating in Bitcoin.

The Central Bank has warned consumers that Bitcoin accounts and transactions are not protected in the same way as dealings in hard currency.

Bitcoin holders have also suffered significant losses in recent months, with the oldest trading exchange, Mt Gox, falling victim to the theft of €300m in Bitcoins.

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