The National Australia Bank (NAB) has decided to dissociate itself from bitcoin, informing bitcoin-related customers it will be closing their accounts next month.
The news is significant as NAB was previously Australia’s most bitcoin-friendly bank, with their representatives actively seeking to build relationships with bitcoin businesses and working with them to understand digital currency issues like fraud prevention.
Australia’s banking industry is dominated by the ‘Big Four’ corporate banking groups: NAB, ANZ, the Commonwealth Bank and Westpac. Of the four, Commonwealth had previously been the one most hostile to bitcoin, while ANZ reportedly works with digital currency businesses on a case-by-case basis. Westpac’s policy remains unknown.
NAB produced a report on bitcoin for its currency traders last December, where it compared bitcoin and digital currencies with existing national currencies. The report was generally curious and neutral in tone, but said bitcoin would take a few more years to achieve mainstream acceptance.
The bank did not give a reason for its policy change, however Mizuho, one of Japan’s largest banks, may have spooked other large banks around the world when it was named as a defendant in the US class action lawsuit against departed exchange Mt. Gox. The complaint stated that by continuing to provide banking services to Mt. Gox, Mizuho “profited from the fraud”.