Polish payment processors and at least one bank in the country have closed the accounts of local bitcoin exchanges.
BitBay, Cryptoins.com, bitmarket24pl and Bitmarket.pl confirmed that the regional payments processors they work with – CashBill and BlueMedia – had informed them that their accounts were being closed at the request of their own partner banks.
Bitmarket.pl told CoinDesk that PKO Bank Polski had also informed them that their bank accounts were being closed.
Representatives from CashBill and BlueMedia confirmed that the closures had taken place. A spokesperson for CashBill, who declined to provide specifics, told CoinDesk that the company had been informed by “various banks” in Poland that continued work with bitcoin exchanges “will result in termination of our services in those banks”.
The spokesperson continued:
“Our aim is to provide 100% payment channel coverage of for all our customers. This has forced us to immediately terminate our operations with all bitcoin exchanges.”
BlueMedia declined to comment on the specifics, but noted “in general, we always warmly welcome such initiatives based on technologies and innovation. However, security always comes first. Our decision was made exclusively based on fraud risk and assessment”.
When reached for comment, PKO Bank Polski representative Michal Tkaczuk declined to comment on the account closures, calling it “a subject of bank secrecy”.
Tkaczuk provided the following statement:
“In our opinion virtual currency markets are poorly regulated. Client identification and procedures use by bitcoin exchange platforms are inadequate and raise legal doubts. Taking this into account, PKO Bank Polski acts to prevent suspicious transactions.”
Notably, the CashBill representative suggested that the company had an interest in bitcoin, but that the legal liabilities represent too great a risk.
“We would gladly add bitcoin payments to our payment channel portfolio, but sadly bitcoin is not currently regulated in any way by Polish law and doing so would constitute a legal risk for our operation,” concluded the spokesperson, adding that the change in policy “left us puzzled”.
At least one of the exchanges indicated that the shutoff was a surprise, with a representative for Cryptoins.com telling CoinDesk that CashBill had terminated its contract “without prior notice”.
Mariusz Sperczyński, a spokesperson for Bitmarket.pl, said that its bank, PKO Bank Polski, had decided to terminate accounts with the exchange, a loss that occurred as its BlueMedia account was also suspended.
Bitmarket.pl previously had its bank account suspended by Bank BPH in January this year. Sperczyński said that the impact of the latest closures was minimal.
The impact on BitMarket24.pl appears to have been more significant. A spokesperson told CoinDesk that its revenues had fallen sharply owing to the fact that 95% of its payments were previously channeled through CashBill.
Justyna Laskowska Witek, a marketing specialist at BitBay, said CashBill informed them earlier this week that it had received instructions from its bank partner to terminate its agreement with the digital currency exchange.
Since CashBill terminated its contract, Witek said that BitBay’s daily trading volume – previously 1000 BTC on an average day – had decreased.
“However, we are trying to overcome this problem,” she added.