The United Kingdom’s NatWest bank has indicated that it will not offer its services to businesses that are involved in providing cryptocurrency trading, products and services.
As reported by The Guardian earlier this week, the bank made its position on cryptocurrency clear in a virtual meeting with shareholders. Natwest board member and risk committee head Morten Friis described the bank’s approach to the sector as ‘cautious’ as it waits for more clarity from UK regulators and their approach to cryptocurrencies in general.
“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,”Friis told shareholders.
The board member noted that the bank would adjust its attitude and treatment of the cryptocurrency space as regulations progress.
“We think of cryptocurrencies as high risk and we’re taking, for that reason, a cautious approach to this. It’s an area where regulation is very much in evolution and we’ll obviously respond to that as things change,”he added.
More businesses are accepting crypto
NatWest’s attitude towards businesses that operate in the cryptocurrency space or accept cryptocurrencies is nothing new, with many other banks having taken similar positions over the past decade.
Nevertheless, this stance will have to be reevaluated as more international companies begin accepting cryptocurrency as a means of payment for their goods and services. Tesla is arguably the largest, globally recognized corporation to announce that it will accept and hold Bitcoin as an alternative payment option for its industry-leading electric vehicles.
Interestingly enough, co-working space startup WeWork announced that it would allow users to pay with select cryptocurrencies on the very same day. Banks may well have to make some exceptions if more companies follow suit.
WeWork will accept payment in Ethereum, USD Coin, Paxos and other widely used cryptocurrencies through a partnership with BitPay and also intends to begin holding a variety of cryptocurrencies on its balance sheet.
The firm also intends to pay landlords and other third parties in cryptocurrencies through American cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase, which is a member of the space-sharing network. Coinbase will be paying for its membership with cryptocurrency as well.