With $40 million in investments, you’d think the bitcoin company Xapo would have an easy time finding a bank to hold all that money. But twice in the last year, banks have sent Xapo to the curb.
“Here’s a cashiers check for all your cash, thank you for your business,” Xapo CEO Wences Casares recalls a U.S. bank telling the company which helps people buy and store bitcoins.
Big U.S. banks are freezing out the bitcoin industry, making it hard for companies dealing in the cryptocurrency to open accounts to pay their employees, let alone to deposit dollars that they receive in exchange for bitcoins. Banks say there are serious hurdles to working with bitcoin entrepreneurs. At the top of the list: the anonymity of bitcoin transactions makes it hard to comply with money laundering regulations, which carry stiff penalties for violations.