As is the case with most countries, Finland doesn’t have established cryptocurrency regulations. After a substantial increase in trading from 2012 to 2017, the majority of Finnish banks now say they don’t want to do business with Finnish cryptocurrency exchange and wallet Prasos Oy on grounds that cryptocurrencies could be in violation of Anti-money laundering (AML) laws of the European Union (EU).
Four banks in the country have turned their backs on the future, including S-Bank, Saastopankki, Nordea Bank AB and the OP Group. Prasos has now been relegated to managing all transactions through only one bank, and could see its business come to a grinding halt if that bank caves to peer pressure and joins the other four. The banks are following the sentiment of the EU, which indicated in December of last year that it would need to develop regulatory oversight for cryptocurrencies in order to protect banks from tax evasion and money laundering.
The decision by the EU to provide tighter regulations over cryptocurrency has caused a lot of debate. While the premise may be sound—controlling terrorism funding and prevent money laundering—many counter that the underlying reason for any regulations would be to shore up banks around the Union. With banks like Bank of America publicly expressing concern that crypto could hurt their business model (read: we won’t make as much money as we used to), there could be some legitimacy to the counterarguments. Even today, individuals use regular banks and financial services for many criminal activities, so that argument doesn’t hold much water.
Prasos is right to be concerned, but counters that it has created policies that comply with AML laws in Europe. It made the decision last year in anticipation of changes to cryptocurrency acceptance in the EU, despite having no binding obligation to do so. At this point, Prasos can only try to keep its head above the chilly surface, and hope that the lake doesn’t freeze.
Prasos offers several crypto solutions to the Finnish community through six different branded products. It provides a platform for large investments as well as single exchange-only operations. It has been exploring the option of launching a merchant platform that would accept legacy Bitcoin (BTC) and over 50 other cryptocurrencies, but those plans now may be in jeopardy, as well.