Cryptocurrency Discrimination: Czech Republic’s Banking Challenge

Cryptocurrency companies in the Czech Republic have faced a challenging situation as Raiffeisenbank has closed the accounts of firms in the cryptocurrency sector. This has caused problems and loss of competitiveness for smaller companies in the industry. The bank justifies its actions by citing security concerns. Previously, Equa Bank was seen as supportive of cryptocurrency companies in the Czech Republic. Still, after being acquired by Raiffeisenbank, it became increasingly likely that clouds were gathering over the industry.

Cryptocurrency companies now encounter significant difficulties opening bank accounts if they operate in cryptocurrency. Banks have a form checkbox asking whether the business is related to cryptocurrencies. If answered affirmatively, the bank refuses to open an account without further investigating the nature of the company’s operations. The Czech Cryptocurrency Association (ČKMA) expressed concern over the discrimination faced by companies in the cryptocurrency sector, as any entrepreneur in the country can open a bank account except those in the industry.

As a result, affected companies often turn to non-banking institutions with licenses for payment services. However, these institutions also have limitations, particularly regarding processing many daily transactions. The closure of bank accounts significantly complicates the situation, especially for smaller cryptocurrency companies. František Vinopal, the chairman of ČKMA, stated that companies in the cryptocurrency sector are being discriminated against and that the situation has made them less competitive.

The closure of bank accounts has affected several companies, including Coinmate, a cryptocurrency exchange. The co-founder of Coinmate, Roman Valihrach, understands the bank’s decision, as he believes that banks lack experts in cryptocurrencies and view these markets as too risky. While the closure does not directly impact Coinmate’s operations, Valihrach acknowledges that the situation has led to a less competitive environment. The closure of accounts to all companies in the sector is seen as a significant disruption to the market.

Raiffeisenbank defended its actions by prioritizing maximum caution and security in managing its clients’ finances. However, Marek Kyrsch, the CEO of Anycoin, a cryptocurrency exchange, disagrees, viewing the closure of accounts for all companies in the industry as a significant disruption to the Czech cryptocurrency market. Kyrsch finds it paradoxical that Raiffeisenbank partnered with the Austrian company Bitpanda while virtually destroying the entire industry in the Czech Republic.

Companies such as SatoshiLabs, the popular Trezor hardware wallet creator for storing cryptocurrencies, have also faced obstacles. Although Trezor did not have accounts with Equa Bank, one of its other companies closed its US dollar account without any explanation or opportunity for clarification or defense. The cryptocurrency sector in the Czech Republic has significant growth potential, but industry representatives seek fair conditions, clear legislation, and equal treatment.

In response to the unfavorable situation cryptocurrency businesses face, the Czech Cryptocurrency Association (ČKMA) is preparing legal steps to protect the interests of its members. The association is also exploring options for legislative changes that would enable companies in the sector to operate without these difficulties. The ongoing actions and potential legal processes aim to address the discrimination faced by cryptocurrency companies in the Czech Republic.