Irish Crypto Firms Refused Banking Services

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  • Irish cryptocurrency firms have been forced to use foreign banking services following delays in implementing the AMLD5 regulations unveiled in 2018
  • Election difficulties and coronavirus have left Irish crypto exchanges short of national options
  • Irish government is promoting blockchain while restricting access

Irish cryptocurrency firms have found themselves bearing the brunt of a delayed EU directive which has left them unable to secure national banking services. Just days after it was announced that JPMorgan is offering banking services to Gemini and Coinbase exchanges, the Irish Times reported that Irish cryptocurrency firms are still having to resort to using foreign banks to run their operations.

General Election and Coronavirus Thwart Exchanges

The issue that Irish cryptocurrency firms are facing stems from delays in transposing the Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive (AMLD5) into law in the country, which was supposed to have happened by the end of January. However, due to the February general election and subsequent failure by political parties to agree a new government, the regulations still have not been implemented. With the coronavirus pandemic shutting down many government services, the likelihood of AMLD5 being implemented anytime soon is dwindling further.

Unable to obtain banking services in their own country, through no fault of their own, Irish cryptocurrency firms have been forced to apply for foreign bank accounts in order to service customers. The fact that sections of the Irish government have been trumpeting blockchain technology at the same time as prohibiting individuals from trading and investing in the companies associated with it highlights the dichotomy at the heart of the problem.

Bryan Tierney, founder of Irish Bitcoin ATM provider Boinnex, told the Times that using foreign accounts was currently the only way round the problem, but that it comes at a cost:

We’ve been forced to get a banking partner abroad. A lot of companies in the space are in a similar situation. Some of these foreign banks charge exorbitant fees as they know they’re the only show in town.

Two Year Battle

Tierney added that his and other companies have been complying with all the changing regulations for over two years, with the associated costs, but that the Central Bank still considers crypto companies “outside of their supervisory framework”. AMLD5 was introduced by the EU in July 2018, although countries were left to decide for themselves how to implement it, with a deadline of January 2020 provisionally given.