British bank Barclays has confirmed they will be implementing new requirements for account holders living in certain other parts of Europe, particularly Cyprus and Greece, which have both experienced significant economic turmoil in recent times.
The bank’s new requirement is a minimum balance of €100,000 for account holders residing in these zones, or else they’ll have to find a new solution by September. A representative told the Cyprus Mail that this move is part of an internal risk management strategy established at the end of 2013.
We haven’t taken this decision lightly and are not looking to simply exit these customers (as Cyprus is still one of the core set of markets we’re focusing on). We’re actively working with our customers to review alternative arrangements, helping them through the transition and giving extensions where we can to find further funds.
Those living in the Greek archipelago will have trouble establishing a new bank account in the British Isles if they have not maintained a residence there, as British banks are known for denying accounts to non-residents. As is seen in the case of Barclays, those with high enough dealings will be serviced without regard.
The decision will also affect residents of Malta.
Also read: Greece May Soon Exit The Eurozone – A Role for Bitcoin?
For Greek and Cypriot account holders, this could be quite a scary new situation indeed, given the demonstratively unstable nature of the banking systems there. As recently as this month, there was the looming possibility of a Greek bail-in, combined with capital controls such as highly restrictive ATM withdrawal limits. Part of the reason for these capital controls was that the banks found themselves unable to meet normal obligations due to a break in liquidity from the European Central Bank, which had previously covered said obligations without issue. The largest contributing factor was a failure by the Greek Central Bank to make good on its debts.
Events like this highlight the best characteristics of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, which provide the user full control of her money. Greek, Cypriot, and Maltese customers are now effectively being forced to bank elsewhere, through no fault of their own (unless one considers a balance under €100,000 to be a fault). They could find themselves moving their funds into a hostile zone, and go from “less than €100,000” to “nothing at all.”
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