Waving Portugal Flag

Portuguese banks close digital assets exchanges accounts despite central bank approval: report

Digital assets exchanges in Portugal are facing new hurdles as banks have taken to closing their accounts without explanation recently, according to a Bloomberg report.

The report identified four digital assets firms that have faced similar actions, including CriptoLoja, Mind the Coin, and Luso Digital Assets, with a fourth that declined to be identified. All the firms are notably licensed by the Bank of Portugal.

The banks closing down digital assets firms’ accounts include some of Portugal’s biggest lenders. Pedro Borges, the co-founder and chief executive officer of the Lisbon-based CriptoLoja, said the firm has had to operate with overseas accounts since Banco Comercial Portugues (BCP) and Banco Santander shut their accounts.

Borges added that the banks did not give any official explanations. Caixa Geral de Depósitos, BiG, Abanca, and other smaller banks have also been identified to be severing their relationships with digital assets exchanges and firms.

“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,” added Pedro Guimaraes, founder of Mind the Coin.

For their part, both the BCP and Banco Santander stated that their moves were due to them carrying out their responsibility of reporting “suspicious transactions” per their perception of risk.

Aside from Portuguese banks, the global banking sector has long been skeptical of digital assets, citing money-laundering and KYC implementation concerns.

Portugal’s digital assets tax haven status under threat

Bloomberg’s report notes that the Portuguese banks’ move could blow the digital asset friendly status that Portugal has maintained for a long time. The country has long been considered a tax haven for digital asset investors as it has a zero percent capital gains tax policy for the industry.

However, recent moves by lawmakers and regulators may see this status change soon. Portuguese lawmakers have proposed two digital assets taxation bills that have been rejected by the parliament.

The bills would have made digital asset taxes to be on par with other income taxes. However, Portugal has not ruled out taxing digital assets completely. Finance minister Fernando Medina told parliament that his ministry is working on a digital assets taxation framework.

Although the timeline for the release of the framework is not known, the minister assures that it will ensure Portugal does not stifle the industry and drive out investors.

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