Portuguese Bank Santander Totta Backs Down, Allows Bitcoin-Related Transactions

Earlier this week, CCN reported that Portuguese branch of Spanish bank Santander, Banco Santander Totta, was blocking bitcoin-related transactions.

The financial institution was blocking the transactions while claiming cryptocurrency exchanges were transacting in non-regulated financial products. Following a backlash, the bank has seemingly backed down, and is now processing these transactions.

Santander Totta was blocking transactions to and from popular cryptocurrency exchanges like Bitstamp and Coinbase. An employee even revealed the existence of an internal directive to block transactions using Coinbase’s IBAN. This, despite Coinbase being a digital currency organization In the European Union the country’s central bank, Banco de Portugal (BdP), authorizes.

The bank’s move forced some of its clients to switch banks, while others asked consumer protection organization DECO to step in. In response, the consumer watchdog scolded the bank for its move, stating it has “no known legal basis” to block cryptocurrency-related transactions.

The backlash forced the bank to send the press an update on the situation, clarifying it hasn’t adopted any measures against cryptocurrencies or cryptocurrency users. The bank added that it oversees its clients’ operations to ensure they comply with applicable regulations. Its update reads (roughly translated):

“Banco Santander Totta hasn’t adopted any measures against cryptocurrencies or those who operate with them (…) Naturally not being able to comment on the activity of its clients, Banco Santander Totta reaffirms that it follows all operations carried out within its scope, always complying with supervisory rules and legal regulations applicable to each case.”

According to local publication ECO, the backlash got to Santander Totta, as at least one client confirmed he was able to transfer funds to Coinbase. This seemingly marks a victory for bitcoin in the country, as according to the publication the bank is now allowing transactions to and from bitcoin exchanges.

Various bitcoiners were already signing a petition that would be sent to the Portuguese parliament once it got to 1,000 signatures. The petition claimed Santander Totta’s move was attempting to keep “Portugal in the middle ages,” and accused the bank of not acting in its clients’ interest.

Santander Totta’s blockade was seemingly incomplete, as various users reportedly managed to transact to and from other cryptocurrency exchanges like Kraken. The financial institution hasn’t yet issued a statement on reenabling bitcoin-related transactions.

Meanwhile DECO, the same organization that scolded the bank for blocking bitcoin-related transactions, recently sent the Ministry of Finance, and the European commissioner in charge of consumer defense a proposal to tax cryptocurrency gains.

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