It’s do as I say, not as I do in Canada. Bank of Montreal (BMO) has decided that its clients aren’t capable of making their own decisions and will be blocking any and all transactions related to cryptocurrency. The move comes despite the fact that the BMO is planning on offering banking services to TMX, operator of the Toronto Stock Exchange, which is planning on launching a cryptocurrency brokerage service.
The announcement hasn’t officially been published by BMO, but, instead, came by way of a post on Reddit. A user who identified himself as a BMO employee published an internal BMO memo, Ops Bulletin #632 from March 28, which outlined the company’s position. The letter was supposedly sent to all company employees and is entitled, “Blocking Cryptocurrency Transactions for BMO Credit Cards, Debit Cards, & Intra Online Payment.”
The memo announced that the ban was effective immediately, and that BMO would block all cryptocurrency merchant transactions. Apparently, any client attempting a cryptocurrency-related transaction would simply receive a message that the transaction cannot be completed.
The internal document goes on to read, “This decision was made due to the volatile nature of cryptocurrencies and to better protect the security of our clients and the bank.” If BMO were so concerned with protecting its security, why would it get in bed with TMX? It certainly creates more questions than answers.
BMO isn’t the first bank to prohibit cryptocurrency transactions. Last month, Bank of America (BOA) announced that it would prohibit its clients from using BOA-issued credit cards to purchase digital currency. Additionally, JPMorgan Chase, Capital One, Discover and Citigroup have followed suit. In February, Lloyds Banking Group out of the UK dropped the hammer on its clients, preventing them from using their cards for cryptocurrency transactions.
In a small glimmer of hope, however, Israeli courts recently sided with digital currencies. The country’s Supreme Court ordered Bank Leumi to not close the accounts of Bits of Gold, an existing company that was starting to get into the cryptocurrency business. The bank had argued that, by its sheer virtue of dealing in cryptocurrency, Bits of Gold was a questionable organization. However, the courts determined that the bank cannot arbitrarily dismiss the relationship based on supposition. Other courts would serve the public well by making the same determination.
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