It’s no secret that cryptocurrency has evolved a lot over the years. It all began 10 years ago, the first cryptocurrency, bitcoin, was first invented. Now, there are over 1,000 different cryptocurrencies. Since its creation, Bitcoin has experienced several booms and dips, provoking questions like “how far will bitcoin go?” Bitcoin has also evolved to the point that there are now hundreds and hundreds of different payment methods available on exchanges (specifically peer-to-peer marketplaces). There are also a ton of new bitcoin trading strategies that have developed over the years.
In short, the pace of cryptocurrency has ramped itself and kicked it into overdrive. There are more businesses incorporating bitcoin and blockchain technology into their day-to-day transactions. Businesses that range from small local e-commerce websites to bigger international businesses. Even banks are starting to come around on this topic. This is just a brief proof of cryptocurrencies’ adaptability.
When people think of cryptocurrencies, people think about their decentralized nature. Their minds are far from any thought of a bank. In fact, some people look at cryptocurrencies as anti-bank digital currency. With these thoughts, do banks even accept bitcoin? Why do they accept bitcoin? Why don’t other banks start accepting bitcoin? How do I buy bitcoin with a bank account? Are there American banks that accept bitcoin? In due time, these questions will have answers.
Banks That “Accept” Bitcoin
In this sense, “accepting” may be a complex word. It’s a pretty odd thing to think that there is any bank that accepts bitcoin since most of the opposition comes from these banking institutions. There are banks that can be linked to big bitcoin exchanges, some are planning on actually opening up trading desks specifically for bitcoin, and then there are some banks that merely support cryptocurrencies yet have done nothing concrete to show that support. Banks accepting bitcoin also depends on location. If the location is more bitcoin-friendly, then you’re more likely to find bitcoin-friendly banks. For example, there are a lot of bitcoin-friendly banks in the US because a lot of Americans actually use bitcoin.
Here are a few examples of some banks that accept bitcoin:
United Service Automobile Association (USAA) is a bank based in America that primarily caters people that serve or have served in the United States military. It was found in Texas in 1922. USAA allows account holders to access Coinbase via the USAA mobile banking app. This is because USAA has also invested in Coinbase, making it the first major US bank to invest in a cryptocurrency exchange. It’s important to note that on the mobile banking app, account holders are only allowed to check their balance. No buying, selling, or trading can be done from the app.
The history between USAA and cryptocurrency is a complicated one. Although it’s the first major US bank to invest in a cryptocurrency exchange, a lot of users have reported issues regarding the bank blocking transactions using cryptocurrencies. In July of 2018, according to American Banker, that cryptocurrency transactions via USAA credit cards were no longer allowed. They did this to prevent fraud and losses. Although it seems like they’ve turned their back on cryptocurrency, they did go on to say that if their account holders would like to continue buying cryptocurrency, then they can do so via debit card.
Citibank was founded in 1812 in New York as the consumer division of Citigroup. It was first known as the City Bank of New York, later became the First National City Bank of New York until it finally evolved into the Citibank we know today. It has grown to have over 2,500 branches and is now one of the biggest banks in the world.
In 2015, Citibank first tried its hand into exploring the distributed ledger technology. Keen Moore, the head of Citi Innovation Labs, said that they have built three blockchains and they were testing their own cryptocurrency – Citicoin.
Like USAA, Citibank also joined in on the no-credit-card rule. In February 2018, Citibank declared that it would ban all its account holders from buying any cryptocurrency with credit cards. Even though US account holders could still use debit cards to buy cryptocurrencies, customers from other locations face heavier restrictions. For example, Citibank India has prohibited the purchase of cryptocurrency with credit cards AND debit cards.
According to a CCN article, Citigroup will allow investors to invest in cryptocurrencies via a product called Digital Asset Receipts (DAR). The way these DARs would work is that Citibank would issue these to clients, enabling them to purchase cryptocurrencies with “insurance, protection, transaction monitoring, and other systems that are required by the financial regulators of the US.” Although the project is still in its early stages, the people of Citigroup believe that products like DARs will “improve the liquidity and infrastructure of the global crypto market.”
Barclays is a multinational investment bank and financial services company. The British bank’s headquarters in London and the company is organized into four core businesses: personal banking, corporate banking, wealth management, and investment management.
According to an article by Coindesk, they stated that Barclays first revealed their plans to trial bitcoin technology in 2015. The exercise was aimed to explore how blockchain could improve its financial services sector.
Last March 2018, Coinbase and Barclays struck a deal that would make it easier for UK customers to buy and sell cryptocurrencies. It would allow Coinbase users to open a bank account with Barclays. Previously, to buy bitcoin, UK customers would have to transfer their pounds into Euros and go through an Estonian bank.
Banks Make or Break Bitcoin?
So what is it that makes these banks accept or denounce bitcoin? There are a lot of theories about how the actions of banks affect cryptocurrencies. Many cryptocurrency experts believe that there is nothing big banks can do to stop bitcoin (even if these banks develop their own blockchain. Banks CANNOT break bitcoin. On the other hand, banks can do a lot to MAKE bitcoin. They can do this by simply adopting the cryptocurrency into their systems. This will make more people aware that bitcoin is something that can be good for everyone. It’s a good idea if there will be more banks that accept transfers from Bitcoin businesses.
The adoption of bitcoin into financial systems doesn’t necessarily mean that bitcoin will replace fiat money. It simply means that people will use bitcoin for somethings and fiat will be used for other things. Banks will then need to compete for which can do the best at both.
Basically, the difference between accepting and denouncing cryptocurrencies is how they want to stay relevant. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are forming a tidal wave of support due to its decentralized nature and banks are either choosing to ride that wave or fight it. We’ve already gotten hints with big banks warming up to Bitcoin and Ripple. Will there be a list of banks that accept bitcoin on loans in the future?
Only Time Will Tell
Obviously, there would be no way of telling if the big banks are going to accept or denounce bitcoin. We’ll just have to wait and see how this plays out. Will there be Canadian banks that accept bitcoin? Are there Swiss banks that accept Bitcoins? Are there banks in Nigeria that accept bitcoin? Despite all the questions and drama, it’s an exciting time to be a bitcoin enthusiast. All this talk of big banks accepting bitcoin is giving more hopes for potential mass adoption. It’s a step in the right direction at the very least.
What do you feel about big banks riding the wave? As a bitcoin enthusiast, are you for or against it? Let us know in the comments section down below!