The closure of an account owned by cryptocurrency trading company, CryptoMKT, at Chile’s only public bank, BancoEstado, came as a shock to the company’s commercial manager, Daniel Dupré, because, according to Dupré, they were working with the bank on the blockchain-related issues and even had meetings scheduled for the future when the news of the account closure decision came. The decision to close the account seems to be a trend among other commercial lenders in Chile such as Scotiabank and Itaú CorpBanca, who have declined to accept traders like CryptoMKT as clients.
CryptoMKT is one of three trading platforms in Chile, handling more than $80 million in transactions each year. The company is currently available in Chile, Argentina, Brazil, and Spain with hopes of expanding into Colombia, Mexico and Peru come this July. CryptoMKT allows its users to buy and sell Ethererum along with local currencies on its platform.
Scotiabank, BankoEstado, and Itaú have taken a stance in opposition of the cryptocurrency industry and, though they have not given a specific reason for the recent account closures, they have stated their concerns in the past of the association between the cryptocurrency industry and money laundering. According the Pulso, Chile’s local newspaper, BankoEstado stated in a letter that the company no longer wished to operate with the cryptocurrency industry where there is “no regulatory recognition of said activity.” Itau CorpBanca’s CEO, Milton Maluhy, has also stated that regulations need to be drawn up for the cryptocurrency industry.
Dupré responded to the bank’s decision by stating that the local banks simply do not understand the cryptocurrency sector or blockchain. Dupré also denies the money laundering connection, proclaiming that CryptoMKT voluntarily complies with UAF’s (Chile’s Financial Analysis Unit) regulations. Dupré believes that their decision and the money laundering arguments only damage Chile’s reputation as a country and makes Chile appear to have an anti-innovation attitude.
Despite the bank’s decision, CryptoMKT has begun discussions with fintechs regarding other potential payment-processing alternatives. These alternatives have not been used before due to the costs that are associated with the service. Dupré is calling for stakeholders to come together and develop a framework for cryptocurrencies seen in countries like Mexico.
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