BMO Gets Out of the Bitcoin Business

Bank of Montreal is closing all Bitcoin-related accounts, according a statement from Cointrader. The Vancouver-based Bitcoin exchange said that “the last Bitcoin-friendly charter bank” closed its account following disparaging comments from Canadian finance minister Jim Flaherty on virtual currencies.

Cointrader noted that “by and large, Canadians are receptive to new technology.” Nevertheless, Flaherty indicated last week that the government would be stepping up regulation on virtual currencies. “It is important to continually improve Canada’s regime to address emerging risks, including virtual currencies, such as Bitcoin, that threaten Canada’s international leadership in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing,” he said.  

Additionally, the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) has indicated that Canada may deny citizens access to the foreign exchange (FX) market and may even force exchanges underground, said Paul Szczesny, co-founder and chief technical officer (CTO) of Cointrader.

All that has led BMO to apparently wash its hands of Bitcoin. “Despite the fact that Cointrader has already implemented an anti-money laundering [AML] regime to comply with potential FINTRAC regulations which was vetted by BMO itself, the bank has decided to sever our account as well,” Szczesny said.

Cointrader, which claims to have started the world’s first physical Bitcoin brokerage, operated the world’s first Bitcoin ATM and is developing Bitcoin point-of-sale (POS) systems, has gone from a part-time staff of three people to 10 full-time employees in less than a year. Now in the process of expanding its business internationally, Cointrader said it is being forced to reconsider relocating its headquarters to a “more innovative jurisdiction where dubious fear-mongering does not preemptively close doors on the entrepreneurial spirit.”

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