Britain's Nationwide curbs cryptocurrency purchases by customers

By Lawrence White and Elizabeth Howcroft

Signage outside a Nationwide Building Society in London

© Thomson Reuters
Signage outside a Nationwide Building Society in London

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s Nationwide Building Society has restricted customers’ ability to buy cryptocurrencies, the lender said in an email to its members on Thursday.

Nationwide said it will not allow payments to crypto exchanges using credit cards and will limit adult current accounts to 5,000 pounds ($5,995) of purchases per day.

The building society said the move was in response to regulatory concern over the risks of buying digital currencies.

Cryptocurrency prices surged in 2020 and 2021 before sharp declines last year as rising interest rates prompted investors to ditch riskier assets. A series of crypto collapses including the FTX exchange left investors with heavy losses, resulting in calls to regulate the sector.

Nationwide’s announcement follows similar moves by other UK banks. In November, as part of measures to protect customers from scams, Santander introduced limits on the amount customers could transfer to cryptocurrency exchanges and said it would soon block UK customers from sending any real-time payments to cryptocurrency exchanges.

Natwest Group introduced restrictions in 2021.

Nationwide’s website says the bank will continue to restrict payments made to the Binance crypto exchange, citing “similar action from other providers, media coverage and regulatory uncertainty”.

The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating Binance for suspected money laundering and sanctions violations, Reuters has previously reported. Binance has said it regularly works with regulatory agencies to address questions they may have.

($1 = 0.8340 pounds)

(Editing by Sinead Cruise and David Goodman)