The personal finance comparison site finder.com has contacted 17 of the UK’s major banks, building societies and banking apps to clarify their policies on customers interacting with cryptocurrency exchanges, revealing a deeply divided landscape.
Almost half (47 per cent) of the UK’s major banks do not support cryptocurrency. Seven banks don’t allow either transfers or debit/credit card purchases involving crypto exchanges and this list is made up of high street banks, with the exception of first direct. However, the list does include newer banks like Metro Bank and Virgin Money. The other banks on this list are Halifax, HSBC, The Co-operative Bank and TSB.
Only four are deemed to be ‘crypto-friendly’, which is less than a quarter (24 per cent) of the UK’s current account providers. Aside from Nationwide, they are all digital-only banks or banking apps – Starling, Monzo and Revolut. All of these allow transfers and withdrawals from crypto exchanges (other than Binance, which is banned in the UK).
Finder.com judged the remaining five banks to have a mixed approach to cryptocurrency. Their restrictions range from blocking credit card payments, to blocking certain exchanges. All banks on the list are traditional high street banks: Barclays, Lloyds Bank, Bank of Scotland, NatWest and RBS.
Kate Anderson, deputy editor and cryptocurrency specialist at the personal finance comparison site, carried out the research and had this to say about her experience:
“The first thing that struck me about contacting every bank as a consumer was just how much the experience varied depending on the bank. A few, like NatWest and RBS, had a clear policy that laid out their approach to digital currencies, but generally I had to do a lot of waiting and chasing with chat bots. There were a few occasions where the answer I received wasn’t totally clear and wasn’t convincing.
“It’s clear from the research that banks are taking the security of their customers seriously, which is vital, although there’s certainly room to improve the communication of their policies. Cryptocurrency isn’t going away, so this patchy communication is something that will need to be remedied sooner rather than later.”