Crypto Clampdown in Portugal

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May 18, 2022
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Portugal's stance on cryptocurrency seems to be shifting, with several large banks beginning to close the accounts of cryptocurrency exchanges. This is likely due to concerns over "risk management," with the country's central bank appearing to give the financial institutions the green light to take such action.

In this article , we'll take a closer look at the situation in Portugal and what it could mean for the future of cryptocurrency in the country.

Crypto Friendly Portugal​


Cryptocurrencies have been increasing in popularity all over the world as a more secure and efficient way of conducting transactions. Portugal has been a notable center of this industry in recent months, as the domestic authorities have treated digital currencies in the same way as other currencies rather than just assets. Many Ukrainians have fled their war-torn country in search of refuge in Portugal, owing to the country's crypto-friendly attitude.

The number of Ukrainians residing in Portugal has surged since February, becoming the second-largest foreigner community after Brazilians. This is likely due to Portugal's favorable stance on cryptocurrencies, which allows for tax-free transactions. Additionally, Portugal offers a number of other benefits that are attracting refugees from around the world, such as a strong economy and good job opportunities.

The Portuguese Congress recently rejected proposed amendments to the cryptocurrency taxation policy. The amendments, suggested by Livre and Bloco de Esquerda – two left-wing parties in Portugal – would have seen taxes applied to individuals who earn profits of over $5,100 per year from dealing with digital assets.

The ruling government of Portugal – the Socialist Party – also seeks to implement changes to the cryptocurrency taxation policy, but it is unknown what these changes will be and whether or not Congress will approve them.

Crypto Clampdown in Portugal​

At least three domestic cryptocurrency exchanges - CriptoLoja, Mind the coin Lusop Digital Assets - have had their accounts shuttered by BCP (Banco Comercial Portugues), Santander Bank, Caixa Geral de Depósitos, BiG and Abanca. Officials at the affected exchanges say that the closures are due to the "risk management" policies of the banks, which are evidently becoming more cautious about doing business with crypto-related firms.

This shift in Portugal's pro-crypto stance could have a significant impact on the country's burgeoning cryptocurrency industry. In recent months, Portuguese regulators have taken a relatively hands-off approach to digital currencies, with the Bank of Portugal saying that it doesn't see any immediate risks posed by them.

However, an overnight policy shift seems to have occurred where it seems that the country's big banks are now taking a different tack, possibly due to concerns about money laundering and other illicit activities.

It's unclear at this point whether the bank account closures will extend to other cryptocurrency firms in Portugal or if they're just targeting exchanges. either way, it looks like the Portuguese crypto industry is facing some growing pains as it continues to mature.

What does this mean?​

Based on reports, all of the accounts of CriptoLoja have been closed. Whereas the other two exchanges have also had some closures. Mind the Coin in particular is having trouble opening new accounts.

Anti Money Laundering Protocols in portugal


This indicates two possible reasons. Firstly the banks may have seen certain red flags that may have triggered anti money laundering protocols. While Portugal has always been very welcoming towards crypto currencies, which even led to the country being termed as the new crypto capital of Europe, at the same time governments cannot turn a blind eye towards crypto transactions.

This is due to the possibility of illegal activities such as money laundering being conducted through them. Banks may have been hesitant to work with cryptocurrency exchanges because of their concerns over money laundering. Cryptocurrencies can be used to move large amounts of money around anonymously, and banks may not want to be involved in any transactions that could be associated with criminal activity.

However, till the time of publishing this article, there is no indication that the accounts of the above-mentioned crypto exchanges have been closed and banking services denied due to possible anti money laundering red flags.

Risk Management in portugal​


The other possibility is that the banks are simply trying to protect themselves from the volatility of the cryptocurrency markets. Cryptocurrencies have seen a lot of ups and downs in recent months, and banks may not want to deal with the potential risks associated with them.

It's also possible that the banks are concerned about new regulations that could be coming down the pipeline. Portugal's government is currently considering changes to the way that cryptocurrencies are taxed, and it's possible that the banks are trying to get ahead of any new rules that could be put in place.

Whatever the reason, the account closures are a setback for Portugal's cryptocurrency industry. The country has been one of the more welcoming jurisdictions for digital currency businesses, but it looks like that may be changing.

It remains to be seen how the Portuguese government will respond to the account closures. If the banks are acting on their own accord, then there may not be much that regulators can do. However, if the account closures are part of a coordinated effort to crack down on the cryptocurrency industry, then the government may need to step in and provide clarity on the matter.

Either way, it's clear that Portugal's cryptocurrency industry is facing some challenges as it continues to grow and mature.

What does the future hold?​


At this point, it's difficult to say what the future holds for Portugal's cryptocurrency industry. If the account closures are simply a case of risk management on the part of the banks, then they may eventually open up their doors to digital currency businesses again once the markets have stabilized.​


However, if the account closures are part of a more coordinated effort to crack down on the industry, then it's possible that Portugal could end up becoming a less friendly jurisdiction for cryptocurrency companies and individual investors may also get targeted in the future. Only time will tell how this situation plays out.

Only one thing is for certain right now. Many countries that were initially were crypto friendly have gone down the same path. It seems highly likely that the government maybe preparing to roll out some crypto regulations to develop some sort of oversight over the booming crypto industry.