CRYPTOCURRENCIES

Brazil to resume probe into banks’ ban on digital currency firms

Brazilian digital currency firms’ fight against banking bans has received a new boost after the country’s antitrust regulator voted to revive its probe against the ban.

The Administrative Council for Economic Defense (CADE) voted on Wednesday to reopen its investigations into the banks that denied digital currency firms services and closed their accounts. The probe alleges violation of the country’s competition law.

CADE launched the probe two years ago after Brazil’s largest banks began to close accounts for digital currency firms. The probe, however, died off a few weeks ago, with CADE’s investigative arm dismissing it on technical grounds.

Just days later, Lena Prado, an advisor for CADE disputed the ruling, claiming that the banks had no justifiable reason to shut down the accounts. And now, a seven-member tribunal at CADE has heeded her call, voting to reopen the probe.

Digital currency firms in Brazil have suffered for years now at the hands of the country’s largest banks. The banks have denied them service, shutting down their accounts at will and for no justifiable reason. As CADE’s investigation found, the banks claimed the shutdowns were necessary because digital currency firms were prone to money laundering.

Fabiano Dias, the vice president for digital currency payroll startup Bitwage in charge of Latin America, disputes this claim. He stated, “We do a better job in checking the legitimacy of the money we touch than banks and government agencies. For us crypto businesses, I know I can speak for our partners in Brazil on that too, we are confident in our KYC procedures, making sure we are only enabling legit professionals, helping them to add efficiency to their payments and finances.”

The reopening of the investigations offers the industry a ray of hope that digital currency firms can finally operate freely and offer their clients fiat services conveniently. The denial of service has pushed many exchanges to the wall, with some of the smaller ones having to shut down altogether.

The investigation will focus on Brazil’s largest banks including Santander, Itau Unibanco Holdings, Banco do Brasil, Bradesco, Sincredi and Banco Inter. Collectively, these banks control over 80% of the Brazilian banking industry.

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