Crypto Firms, Banks Asked to Discuss UK Debanking, Regulator Says

While crypto firms have struggled to access banking services in the country, a wide-ranging FCA report on debanking follows allegations from broadcaster Nigel Farage that his bank account was shuttered due to his political views.

AccessTimeIconSep 19, 2023 at 12:22 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 19, 2023 at 1:57 p.m. UTC
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  • The U.K.'s Financial Conduct Authority said in a Tuesday report on debanking that it had facilitated discussions between banks and crypto firms that have been struggling to open accounts in the country.
  • The wide-ranging report was spurned at least in part by British broadcaster Nigel Farage's accusations that his bank account was shuttered because of his political views, leading to wider concerns about discriminatory debanking.

The U.K.'s Financial Conduct Authority says it facilitated discussions between banks and crypto firms that have been struggling to access banking services in a controversial Tuesday report addressing reasons for debanking in the country.

The report, which follows allegations from broadcaster and former politician Nigel Farage that his bank account was shuttered over his political views, said "the most common reported reasons for personal and business account applications being declined, suspended or terminated were financial crime suspicions identified, due diligence concerns, and inactive/dormant accounts."

Some crypto firms have been struggling to open a bank account in the U.K. and companies like NatWest have said they won't open bank accounts for crypto firms.

The FCA report, which compiled data from 34 credit institutions and payment firms, said that crypto was among the industries that some payment account providers did not give banking access to. Although it has "limited time" to dedicate to businesses obtaining bank accounts, the FCA said it has taken steps where it can to influence decisions to ensure market integrity.

Dialogue between crypto firms and banks "can help ensure a fair and balanced approach is taken, clarify approaches and the reasons behind decisions taken, and explore appropriate ways of mitigating concerns and potential risks," the report said.

Multiple media outlets reported Monday that the FCA report was going to say it found no evidence that banks closed accounts over customers' political stances, with Farage calling the report "total nonsense."

"Given the limitations of the data, we have not been able to draw detailed conclusions on the types of personal or business customers affected by suspensions, terminations and declines," the report said, adding that the cases flagged where the "expression of political or any other opinion" may have been a factor in account closure didn't pan out and were instead mostly due to customer behavior including racism.

"What we expect and what the regulations expect to adhere to are a risk-based approach on taking on ... customers not a broad brush approach," Emad Aladhal, director at the FCA said in a briefing held on Tuesday.

Edited by Sandali Handagama.


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Camomile Shumba

Camomile Shumba is a CoinDesk regulatory reporter based in the UK. She previously worked as an intern for Business Insider and Bloomberg News. She does not currently hold value in any digital currencies or projects.

Sandali Handagama

Sandali Handagama is CoinDesk's deputy managing editor for policy and regulations, EMEA. She does not own any crypto.

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