BitMarket, a Polish Bitcoin exchange, was recently closed down by BPH due to their association with Bitcoin. At first the bank was told that it was due to technical problems. Another bank, Bank Zachodni WBK (BZ WBK), also began terminating accounts shortly after the BitMarket incident. While these two banks are shutting down accounts held by Bitcoin businesses, does this signify a national crackdown in Poland? I sought to uncover more information on this matter by interviewing Poland’s largest Bitcoin exchange, who to date, has not had any problems in their banking relationships.
I got a chance to interview Filip Godecki, CCO of Bitcurex.
Interview with Bitcurex
What is Bitcurex?
Bitcurex has been on the market since 2012 – it is the most experienced and trusted Bitcoin exchange service in Poland. We operate on EUR, PLN, USD and RUB markets. We have PKO BP among our business partners: the biggest and most renowned Polish bank, with 1/3 of the shares owned by the State Treasury. We are a corporate client of PKO BP, which enables us to offer individual bank accounts to our clients.
There are two banks that are cracking down on Bitcoin based businesses such as exchanges. In your opinion, is this a trend that is picking up steam, or are the majority of Polish banks still friendly towards Bitcoin based businesses?
From our perspective, it would be difficult to talk about a negative trend. The attitude toward Bitcoin in Poland is neutral, converging with tendencies in most EU countries. Institutions are looking at the project from a certain distance, waiting for what comes next. The situation is similar with banks.
Official releases by Bitmarket and Bitmaszyna exchanges say that the decisions made by banks were somehow linked to law enforcement activities aimed at fighting money laundering. I am not aware of all the details regarding the problems of our competitors, so I can base my judgement of the situation only on my own experiences. These are good – the sphere of cooperation is expanding, which is certainly influenced by our responsible AML and KYC policies.
Have you dealt with any banks outside of Poland, if so how do they compare towards Polish banks in terms of ease of transactions and account management?
A big part of the banking sector in Poland is occupied by branches of foreign banks, so it is difficult to talk about big differences in comparison to other EU countries. Hence, as everywhere, we have some better and some worse banks, and some mediocre ones. To generalize – there is probably some room for improvement in customer service.
In your opinion do you see Polish banks remaining largely friendly towards Bitcoin in the near future?
Yes. Of course, assuming there is responsible cooperation on clear terms and the Bitcoin project continues to evolve. I believe it will be just so.
According to Filip, the two Polish banks that were shutting down accounts were doing so due to money laundering issues rather than the fact that those businesses were associated with Bitcoin. While Bitcoin continues to remain in a legal gray area for many countries, Poland appears to remain a country with banks that help Bitcoin businesses foster growth and bank comfortably. While it appears on the surface, the BPH and BZ (WPK) did not want anything to do with cryptocurrency; there may have been other issues that led to the termination of those accounts. Filip’s interview and information can lead to the conclusion that Poland is largely friendly and un-hostile towards Bitcoin. While banks and governments all around the world work towards Bitcoin market regulation, there could be some rough patches along the way for several companies, regardless of the country that they are located in.
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