Traditional ‘big four’ UK banking group Barclays has confirmed that customers will continue to be able to purchase cryptocurrencies using credit cards while Virgin Money hits the brakes.
Contrary to a policy change by rival banking institution Lloyds Banking, a spokesperson for British banking giant Barclays has told the BBC that customers will be able to use both Barclays debit cards and Barclaycard credit cards to purchase cryptocurrencies.
The spokeswoman stressed Barclays would take precautions and flag suspicious transactions but will not, currently at least, enforce any clampdown on purchasing cryptocurrencies.
The Barclays spokeswoman stated:
“We take precautions to assess affordability before extending credit, flag and prevent any suspicious transactions and also closely monitor credit risk.”
Meanwhile, Edinburgh-based financial services company Virgin Money UK is joining Lloyds in keeping its customers from buying cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. The concern, according to a Virgin Money rep, is on customers running up debts during volatile markets.
Virgin Money operates in the UK, South Africa and Australia. While it isn’t certain that the ban applies across all three countries, a Virgin Money spokesperson confirmed a change in policy will bar its customers from crypto purchases.
A spokesperson stated:
“Following a review of our policies, I can confirm customers will no longer be able to use their Virgin Money credit card to purchase crypto-currencies.”
Like Lloyds, Virgin Money’s ban will only apply to credit cards and not debit cards linked to its customers’ bank accounts. The ban against credit card cryptocurrency purchases applies despite, as the BBC report suggests, the legal usage of credit cards in gambling in the United Kingdom where interest charges could reach up to a staggering 30% annually – and that isn’t counting additional fees.
Founded by Richard Branson as a subsidiary of the Virgin Group, Virgin Money’s move to block crypto purchases comes despite its founder’s own famed support for cryptocurrencies. A staunch proponent and advocate for bitcoin, billionaire Richard Branson is a long-time holder of the cryptocurrency. In 2013, Branson’s Virgin Galactic began accepting bitcoin for future space tourism.
Over the years, Branson has continually lauded cryptocurrencies, stating in 2014:
“Bitcoin is creating an entirely new form of currency. I was happy to see PayPal announce they will integrate BitPay into their website, and we are also accepting Bitcoin on Virgin Galactic.”
Branson’s private Necker Island has also played host to Blockchain Summits with a number of attendees representing the biggest heavyweights of the bitcoin and blockchain industry.
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