What used to be one of the best countries in the world to open a crypto exchange company has now become one of the worst. Portugal banks are starting to close the accounts of digital currency exchanges. While no official explanation has been issued yet, some large lenders did say that they are worried about the sector’s anti-money laundering and know-your-customer policies.
Two small banks in Portugal closed the accounts of CriptoLoja, following two of Portugal’s top banks, Banco Comercial Portugues and Banco Santander, to close all of CriptoLoja’s Lisbon-based accounts last week. Many other crypto exchange companies also had difficulties this year, such as Mind the Coin, and Luso Digital Assets.
In an emailed report sent by Banco Comercial, it was stated that it had an obligation to inform the authorities about “suspicious transactions.” In Banco Santander, a representative said that the company acts in “accordance with its perception of risk” and that the decisions they make based on terminating accounts depend on “several factors.”
During the Covid-19 pandemic, Portugal became a hub for digital currency exchanges due to several reasons, such as its tax-free nature for digital-currency gains, affordable living costs, and great year-round weather. However, recently it has become the opposite. There is still no clear news about whether there are other crypto exchanges that suffered this blow but it’s safe to say it might happen again.
The founder of crypto firm Mind the Coin, Pedro Guimaraes, said: “While there is no official explanation, some banks just tell us they don’t want to work with crypto companies. It’s almost impossible to start a crypto business in Portugal right now.” Hence, there is tension and worry spreading through digital currency exchanges in Portugal as to what the outcome will be.