Dubai's biggest bank defends blocking some cryptocurrency transfers

BitOasis calls action by Emirates NBD 'unfortunate' as it sees big increase in demand for services across GCC
(AFP/Getty Images - for illustrative purposes only)
By Bernd Debusmann Jr
Tue 16 Jan 2018 03:19 PM

BitOasis said on Tuesday it believes it is “unfortunate” that Emirates NBD has halted some transfers for customers dealing with blockchain-based cryptocurrency trading platforms.

In a statement, BitOasis said the company “is working tirelessly” at resolving “bottlenecks” created by the exponential increase in demand for its services across the GCC.

“It is our understanding that Emirates NBD’s recent policy to halt transfers for customers with blockchain-based trading platforms applies not only to BitOasis but to similar companies in the blockchain space both locally and internationally,” the statement said.

“It is unfortunate to see one of the UAE’s major financial institutions taking such a position on products built using this innovative and much in demand technology.

“We continue to actively build strong relationships with other leading financial institutions as well as regulators in the UAE, with the aim of fostering an environment more conducive to blockchain technology adoption,” the statement added.

The statement comes less than a week after a local media outlet reported that BitOasis customers using some local banks were having trouble withdrawing or depositing funds into their BitOasis accounts.

“We currently do not have any issues with accepting or sending customer transfers to Noor Bank or any other UAE or GCC based banks as the article suggests,” the statement noted. “We are also currently engaging with other banks mentioned in the article to streamline and remove any friction to our customers banking there.”

In response to BitOasis, Emirates NBD said that it “does not prohibit customers from undertaking transactions involving blockchain-based trading platforms including transactions with BitOasis, other similar companies or any Bitcoin transactions."

The bank added: “Emirates NBD does however have policies, systems and controls to detect and prevent financial crime including money laundering, terrorist financing and breaches of international sanctions in line with its regulatory obligations and the expectations of our correspondent banks.

“It is therefore possible that some transactions associated with Bitcoin may be rejected by Emirates NBD or as a result of rejections by other domestic or international correspondent banks.”

Additionally, the BitOasis statement noted that, similar to other blockchain asset trading platforms around the world, “recent unprecedented growth, particularly in the last eight weeks, has led to unexpected delays in user verifications and withdrawals.”

To cope with the demand, BitOasis said they are working to double capacity and invest more in infrastructure to allow “thousands” of new customers from the UAE and wider GCC to join.

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