Irish bitcoin ATM operator Boinnex found itself facing roadblocks from Allied Irish Banks (AIB), which shut down its account and said it didn’t want to deal with an unregulated form like cryptocurrency, according to CoinDesk.
That forced the entire operation to shut down for six weeks until founder Bryan Tierney was able to establish another way of funding.
Tierney said AIB initially did not even give a reason for the shutdown. He just received a notice from AIB stating that his account was to be shut down last August.
Tierney then put his account into an arranged overdraft, preventing AIB from shutting him down. That prompted the explanation that “the market for Cryptocurrencies in ROI [Republic of Ireland] remains unregulated,” CoinDesk reported.
Cryptocurrency still isn’t recognized by the Central Bank of Ireland as a legitimate form of payment.
That left Boinnex without access to mainstream finance services, although since then, Tierney has established Boinnex with another firm, using AIB for only the non-crypto aspects of the business.
Irish financial authorities have positioned themselves as friendly and welcoming to cryptocurrency in recent years. Irish Finance Minister Pascal Donoughue said in an interview with the Irish Times that he supports the use of blockchain to help engender new technology. And the government established a FinTech Foresight Group to try and embrace up and coming tech.
Tierney said his experiences with Irish banking have jaded him to those sentiments.
Cryptocurrency was scheduled to be on the docket with the European Union's fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive (5AMLD), which would have required crypto businesses to register with local regulators. But the coronavirus has become a priority for the EU as it has for the rest of the world, and so now it’s unlikely the matter will come up this year.
Boinnex’s experiences aren’t an isolated incident — crypto exchange BitIreland had an account closed down, and another exchange, Bitcove, had multiple AIB accounts closed down. A spokesperson for Bitcove said AIB was “never interested” in its business practices, according to CoinDesk.