Venezuela’s Biggest Bitcoin Exchange Looks to Resume Operations After Bank Blockade

Journalist:
Lester Coleman
February 24, 2017

SurBitcoin, a Venezuelan bitcoin exchange, announced that it expects to resume banking operations in a week after suspending activity on Feb. 3 when Banesco bank closed its account. The exchange advised customers to use LocalBitcoins after Banesco closed its bank account.

SurBitcoin advised customers that operations in the national currency could resume in one week.

Customers Told: Withdraw Funds

The exchange told customers to withdraw their balances after Banesco closed its account on Feb. 3. “Dear customer, yesterday we received a communication from the management of Banesco where we are informed that our bank account will be closed today 03/02/2017,” SurBitcoin stated, according to razor-forex.com.

The exchange explained that services will be down for several weeks as new financial partnerships are forged.

SurBitcoin did not provide any details on why Banesco stopped providing banking services.

The bank could have grown wary of bitcoin following last week’s bust of a bitcoin mining farm in Carabobo was carried out by the Organized Crime Bureau of the Bolivarian National Police.

The same trend occurred in neighboring Colombia, where bitcoin turnover on LocalBitcoins surged to a record high last week.

In late January, three men and a woman were arrested in the town of Charallave in the northern region of Venezuela.

Also read: bitcoin websites blocked by Venezuelan government

Crackdown Continues

Government action in various parts of the country continues against “criptomonedas” operations.

As the country reels from hyperinflation and an impoverished economy, many have turned to bitcoin as an alternative currency. Bitcoin miners have thrived, with fortunate miners and adopters using the cryptocurrency to import food and groceries from the United States.

Venezuelan authorities have taken a hard line stance against bitcoin ever since hyperinflation struck in late 2014. A gray market for bitcoin has been in function ever since.

In early January, the Venezuelan government, through a state-owned Internet service provider – the largest in the country – blocked access to bitcoin websites, including SurBitcoin, outright.

Image from Shutterstock.

Tags: venezuela
Lester Coleman

Lester Coleman is a media relations consultant for the payments and automated retailing industries.