Citibank India notified debit card and credit card clients via email on the 13:th of February they would no longer be able to participate in cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin. Citing regional and global concerns from regulators, the over a century old institution is following a growing number of traditional banks in cutting off access to the decentralized currency.
Citibank India Bans Bitcoin
“Given concerns,” Citibank India informed its customers in an email Tuesday, “both globally and locally including from the Reserve Bank of India, cautioning members of the public regarding the potential economic, financial, operational, legal, customer protection and security related risks associated in dealing with bitcoins, cryptocurrencies and virtual currencies, Citi India has decided to not permit usage of its credit and debit cards towards purchase or trading of such bitcoins, cryptocurrencies and virtual currencies.”
Bank of America, Lloyds Banking Group, JP Morgan Chase have also forbade cryptocurrency purchase for their customers, though they haven’t a retail presence in India. Recently, Visa pulled its European support for crypto, and Mastercard has elected to treat crypto purchases as cash advances. Citibank India has been around since 1902, and is counted among the largest foreign investors while operating over thirty brick and mortar outlets and over 500 automatic teller machines in the region. Among the top five cards, it is the only multinational bank.
Last month, banks in India such as HDFC, Axis, Yes Bank, SBI, and ICICI Bank pulled their support of bitcoin and crypto exchanges for customers. Combined with Arun Jaitley, Indian Finance Minister, delivering a budget speech where it was reiterated cryptocurrencies will not be recognized as legal tender, and it’s easy to see why Citibank India might’ve been spooked.
Mr. Jaitley warned, “The Government does not consider cryptocurrencies legal tender or coin and will take all measures to eliminate use of these crypto-assets in financing illegitimate activities or as part of the payment system.”
Kotak Mahindra Bank Drops Bitcoin as Well
Kotak Mahindra Bank has also announced it will not allow its customers to dabble in crypto. It has over a thousand branches in India, with over two thousand ATMs, making it the fourth largest bank in the country.
The bank warned any type of crypto activity noticed on accounts would be immediate grounds for closure.
What do you think of Citibank India’s move? Let us know in the comments section below.
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