Chase UK, a digital banking subsidiary of JPMorgan Chase, recently announced that it will no longer allow customers to purchase cryptocurrencies using its debit cards or through bank transfers. The bank cited concerns over the risk of fraud related to cryptocurrencies, as data shows that fraudulent activities involving digital currencies have been increasing. However, this decision has been criticized by Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong, who believes it is not right for private companies to “de-platform” the crypto industry. Armstrong suggests that the UK government should pay attention to this move, despite the country’s ambition to become a leading hub for web3 and crypto.
Armstrong’s criticism of Chase UK’s decision stems from his belief that it is not appropriate for private companies to determine what is allowed or not in society. He argues that it should be the government’s role to regulate such matters. Other banks in the UK have also taken steps to restrict or ban cryptocurrency transactions due to fraud risks. NatWest has implemented limits on cash sent to crypto exchanges, while HSBC has completely banned crypto purchases.
Chase UK’s decision to block crypto-related transactions is based on the rise in fraud associated with digital assets. Data from Action Fraud, a UK fraud reporting agency, shows that consumer losses to crypto fraud have increased by over 40% in the past year, surpassing £300 million for the first time. While cryptocurrencies were originally intended as an alternative form of money independent of traditional financial institutions, they have been linked to illicit activities, including money laundering and illegal gambling, partly due to their pseudonymous nature.
Despite the concerns raised, proponents of cryptocurrencies argue that the industry has become more mature and can be used legitimately for everyday payments and trading. The UK government has been working on legislation to regulate retail trading in crypto assets, and there are plans to pass a crypto-specific law by April 2024. The UK aims to position itself as a crypto-friendly jurisdiction, but Armstrong hopes that Chase UK’s stance on crypto will be clarified in the coming weeks, as it goes against the country’s ambition to become a leading crypto hub.