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rypto and Defi enthusiasts are very quick to dismiss banks and the traditional financial establishments, (the ‘old guard’) but those who think that they can just run riot and upend a sector which dates back to 14th century Italy (and further) are mistaken - it’s simply not possible. Maybe in a little crypto bubble, but not for mass adoption. And isn’t that when we want? So you're going to need a crypto bank.

TL/DR:

Barclays won't bank you. Revolut won't bank you. Articles listing them online are just wrong. Also be very careful of the crypto press with such lists, see our article n their $4700 charge to be listed. You have very few options for business or personal accounts, with Xace being the newest, cheapest and best solution for European customers needing named IBAN accounts. If you just need a debit card for your crypto, Wirex is good for non-UK users - but we'll look at crypto debit cards in another article.

What is a crypto friendly bank account?

Let’s face it, for now crypto needs the banks and you need bank accounts. Crypto would not be where it is today without access to the fiat economy. Coinbase has a bank account and payment processors. This is how they accept Fiat payments. There would not be a Coinbase if it didn’t have these financial products! Binance? Yep they have accounts too.

Without existing fiat infrastructure, Bitcoin does not work. Crypto would just be for a few people sending BTC to each other in their bedrooms. Access to fiat rails, banks and cards has allowed cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin to gain traction outside of its initial small bubble (pun intended) and exposure to the masses.

However, banks in general do not like digital currencies or decentralisation, although they’re warming to Blockchain. At the very least they see them as risky investments or off grid payment mechanisms with a seedy nature and a large risk of illegitimate activity and money laundering. At the most see it as a threat to their very existence. 

If you’re in the crypto business, then how do you get access to the fiat infrastructure you need? How do you get a bank account? How do you get multi currency accounts? You may be launching a new venture or had your old account shut down. Either way, you’ll need a crypto friendly bank to attend to your needs. We felt the need to write this article initially as many of the original articles on the subject are outdated or just plain wrong. So without further ado, let’s look at who’s out there and what their current position is.

Banks
Crypto Friendly
Locations
EUR Iban
UK FP
SEPA
Currencies
Virtual Card
Exchange
Custody
License
Xace
EEA
GBP&EUR
UK FCA
Wirex
EEA ex UK
GBP,EUR,USD
UK FCA
Barclays
Global
GBP,EUR,USD
UK FCA
Cashaa
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Revolut
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Bankera
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Mistertango
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Dag Global
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
BCB
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Bitwala
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Xace

Crypto bank accounts: Yes
Locations: EEA only
UK account: Yes
EUR IBAN: Yes
Multicurrency: Yes
Faster Payments: Yes
SEPA: Yes
SWIFT: Coming soon
Virtual Debit Cards: Yes
Direct Debits: Yes
Crypto Exchange: No
Crypto Custody: No
Headquarters: London
Regulation & License: UK FCA licensed, Small payment institution
Fees: Average (around 0.125%)

Xace is very much part of a new era of challenger banks, targeting higher risk consumers and industries than the likes of Revolut and Monzo care to work with. Founded in 2019, Xace has moved quickly to gain its SMI license with the UK's FCA, now accepting customers as early as May 2020.

Created from the founder frustration with banking clients in the crypto and gaming sector, Xace set out primarily as a crypto bank, a bitcoin friendly bank and a gaming friendly bank. Providing business and personal named accounts for GBP with UK faster payments and EUR accounts with payments via SEPA via IBANs, Xace has become one of the leading choices available for those in gaming or crypto, or both.

Account features cover the basic requirements of most corporate accounts, offering Direct Debits, virtual debit cards and those most important named accounts, which ensure payments are from your business and not the issuing bank.

With Swift and physical debit cards seemingly on the way judging by their website, Xace are pushing hard to compete with not only the few other crypto friendly options but actually challenger banks as a whole, just for a new type consumer and business.


Wirex

Crypto bank accounts: Kind of
Locations: EEA excluding UK
UK account: Yes
EUR account: Yes
Multicurrency: Yes
Faster Payments: Yes
SEPA: Yes
SWIFT: Yes
Crypto Exchange: Yes
Crypto Custody: Yes
Headquarters: London
Regulation & License: UK FCA licensed,
Fees: High (0.2%)

Whilst the likes of BCB have the look of a more traditional bank, Wirex would be it’s trendy little nephew and has the feel of a crypto app, much like a coinbase. And essentially it is similar. Founded in 2014, Wirex is an FCA regulated global digital payments application, allowing users to spend their fiat and cryptocurrencies from the comfort of a Wirex Visa card.

It's not quite a payments institution, where it's regulated to provide e-money accounts and e-wallets rather than digital accounts and provides debits and pre-paid cards via provider Contis.

Wirex offers "A flexible business account that allows payments in both crypto and traditional currency”. You can hold up to 11 fiat and crypto currencies in your business account and make/receive payments via SEPA, SWIFT and the blockchain and at the same time have access to OTC FX and crypto rates to exchange any of the 11 currencies in the account.

You can also easily set roles and permissions within your business, whilst crypto is stored in segregated, multi-signature cold-storage accounts, so only you can access your currency. Fairly simple.


Barclays Bank

Crypto bank accounts: No
Locations: Global
UK account: Yes
EUR account: Yes
Multicurrency: Yes
Faster Payments: Yes
SEPA: Yes
SWIFT: Yes
Crypto Exchange: Yes
Crypto Custody: Yes
Headquarters: London
Regulation & License: UK FCA licensed

Not crypto friendly, you're highly unlikely to get an account with Barclays if you regularly use for crypto purposes, there are many poor quality articles telling you otherwise.

Everyone knows Barclays. They are one of the largest and oldest banks in the world and dominate the UK high street.

There was initially much excitement about Barclays in the crypto space during the ICO boom era. Known as the bankers of Coinbase, many thought this paved the way for Barclays to accept accounts from many more of the ‘big firms’ and for other high street banks to follow suit.

Unfortunately this did not happen. In fact, the exact opposite did! Barclays ended their relationship with Coinbase and the major banks were closing their doors to crypto businesses, calling them out as ‘persona non grata’. Many of them were even shutting down the ability for their retail customers to invest in crypto.

The post ICO crash was quite literally the dark age for the industry. We hear from our sources that some of the major banks are considering relaxing their stance on crypto at some point in the future but I’d imagine that they, like the rest of the world, have more pressing issues on their plate at the moment!


Cashaa

Crypto bank accounts: Kind of
Locations: EEA excluding UK
UK account: Yes
EUR account: No
Multicurrency: Yes
Faster Payments: Yes
SEPA: No
SWIFT: Yes
Crypto Exchange: Yes
Crypto Custody: No
Headquarters: London
Regulation & License: UK FCA licensed

Cashaa are championing the crypto friendly business account, providing to those they feel are underserved by banks. They want to create a “hassle free” experience for players in the space such as brokers, exchanges, wallet providers and STOs. 

Similar to Wirex, Cashaa offers crypto friendly business banking merging the concept of banking and blockchain and with B2B and B2C propositions. These guys raised a big ICO back in 2017 and like most people lacked some initial direction. They wanted to take over the world and it looks like they have settled on crypto friendly banking, offering a UK current account and crypto wallet with access to over 200 currencies.

The Cashaa utility token, CAS is the native token of the Cashaa ecosystem and is used for quicker applications, discounted onboarding fees, cheaper transaction fees etc etc you get the picture - the token is just another usability block in our opinion.

Cashaa claims to be the biggest crypto friendly challenger bank in the United Kingdom and serves clients globally, although we cannot verify this and doubt it to be true with the likes of Xace and BCB also listed.


Revolut

Crypto bank accounts: No
Locations: EEA
UK account: Yes
EUR account: No
Multicurrency: Yes
Faster Payments: Yes
SEPA: No
SWIFT: Yes
Crypto Exchange: Sort of
Crypto Custody: Sort of
Headquarters: London
Regulation & License: UK FCA licensed

So everybody knows Revolut. Many of us use Revolut. Along with Monzo, these guys tore up the rule book on banking and rewrote it, exactly how they thought it should be. Well actually how we all thought it should be.

We always wondered why we couldn’t do this or that from our bank, well Revolut went and did it and showed the world it was possible. Now, I’m just going to go ahead and say it, would it not just be amazing if Revolut accepted crypto businesses or traders as customers? Literally bish bash bosh job done, we can all go home and I can stop typing. If only life was that easy.

Revolut won’t touch anything that is deemed slightly high risk, so gaming, crypto, hemp or even any type of money service business. They’ve managed to do pretty much everything else and done a pretty good job so they obviously feel the risk is not worth the rewards.

After an alleged ticking off by the UK regulator last year, they have rrecently (April 2020) closed down any accounts which are not in line with their mandate. The ‘revolut with crypto’ void is therefore being filled by the likes of challenger banks like Xace.

Bankera

Crypto bank accounts: Kind of
Locations: Outside EEA
UK account: No
EUR account: Yes
Multicurrency: Yes
Faster Payments: No
SEPA: Yes
SWIFT: Yes
Crypto Exchange: Yes
Crypto Custody: Yes
Headquarters: Lithuania
Regulation & License: Central Bank of Lithuania

Bankera is a forward thinking venture with sights on delivering a neo bank for the future, offering accounts to both businesses and retail which are cheap and convenient. Like Cashaa, Bankera raised an ICO back in the day, and a big one at that.

Their BNK token built on the Ethereum network netted the company approx USD 150 million in investor cash. Their aim? To merge the worlds of fiat and crypto. To do this they have had to bank in Lithuania, which is usually a sign that this may have been the only route available to them.

Under their ‘business+’ account, they are happy to onboard “High-risk industries or businesses outside the EEA”. Basically, Bankera caters to individuals and companies involved in crypto, giving them access to payment rails and account facilities. They view this as a misunderstood and underserved sector and have ambitions to build the “neobank of the future” with services in payments, loans, deposits and investments.

Let’s hope they are putting that 150m to good use!


Mistertango

Locations: EEA excluding UK
UK account: No
EUR account: Yes
Multicurrency: Yes
Faster Payments: No
SEPA: Yes
SWIFT: Yes
Crypto Exchange: No
Crypto Custody: No
Headquarters: Lithuania
Regulation & License: Central Bank of Lithuania

At first glance you would be forgiven for thinking that Mistertango was some sort of drink. It is not. It is actually a Fintech app giving crypto users and businesses access to fiat infrastructure.

Businesses can utilise Mistertango’s high risk friendly attitude, although little is seen of Mistertango who have actually been around a few years.

They welcome companies involved in crypto such as ICOs and exchanges and other high risk ventures like gaming. Mistertango offer 3 pricing models and accounts come with free user transfers, named IBANs and balance checks.

Businesses can open multiple accounts and have the option to utilise unlimited virtual IBANs, so a dedicated IBAN can be used for each client or transaction. So far so good. However Mistertango is not without it’s problems.

They have been peppered with user complaints and have even been fined EUR 245,000 by the Central Bank of Lithuania for non compliance and not imposing sufficient AML checks and the rest. Trust Pilot also has not much good to say with a score of 2.2. These guys had a lot of promise, let’s hope they can sort it out.


DAG Global

UK account: Yes (except there is no bank yet)
EUR account: Not clear (except there is no bank yet)
Multicurrency: Yes (except there is no bank yet)
Faster Payments: Yes (...you get the picture)
SEPA: Not clear
SWIFT: Yes
Crypto Exchange: We assume so
Crypto Custody: We assume so
Headquarters: London
Regulation & License: UK FCA (rejected 2019)

DAG Global is an odd one. There is a lot of  press out there about their vision and mission yet very little on what they have actually done other than applying for a licence. Anyone can apply for a licence but calling youselves a merchant bank without such a licence is risky.

The team are from a traditional finance background with a pedigree and they want to build the first merchant bank for digital assets and bring respectability to blockchain Britain! The operative words here being want to. So we are thinking more BCB than Mistertango.

It seems as if they have had some setbacks from the UK regulators (FCA) for their banking licence and have had to push back their launch to 2021. In the meantime they are embarking on a GBP 15 million Series A funding round. A typical step for UK startups with no business yet...

The founder, Sean Kiernan had this to say, “This fundraising marks a key milestone in our development of a merchant bank for the modern age and will allow us to achieve a number of important strategic goals, including building out our systems and team as well as providing regulatory capital to expand our business beyond our current activities.”

So watch this space and let’s see what's on the menu in 2021! Whether DAG are successful or not, they definitely point towards where we are going in the future. We just hope their bank is better than their website but it would seem BCB and Xace have the advantages here.

BCB

Crypto bank accounts: Yes
Locations: EEA only
UK account: Yes
EUR account: Yes
Multicurrency: Yes
Faster Payments: Yes
SEPA: Yes
SWIFT: Yes
Crypto Exchange: Yes
Crypto Custody: Yes
Headquarters: London
Regulation & License: UK FCA licensed, Authorised payment institution
Fees: High (around 0.15%)

BCB describe themselves as “an FCA regulated business payments provider in the digital assets industry”, we'll call them a crypto friendly bank. In a sector poorly underserved by banks, BCB has aimed its sights on B2B payments, including accounts and FX/crypto market liquidity access. They have been around for a while and have been seen as the de-facto crypto bank without much competition. And it’s easy to see why, with some of the industry’s heavyweight’s banking here such as Coinbase, Bitpay and Bitstamp.

BCB certainly lack the look and feel of the likes of Xace and Wirex but they have managed to serve some large accounts over the past few years. Now a large organisation, BCB are clearly aiming to continue growth and develop their platforms for more retail and SME use.

BCB are focused on 3 main areas: banking, markets and custody. Banking gives customers similar features to Xace, SEPA, SWIFT, Faster payments and named IBANs with access to multi-currency, whilst their markets and custody divisions focus on trading and storing digital assets. BCB are targeting a one stop shop with tried and tested infrastructure, however all this comes at the cost of sky high onboarding and monthly fees. But ultimately, you get what you pay for.


Bitwala

UK account: No
EUR account: Yes
Multicurrency: Yes
Faster Payments: No
SEPA: Yes
SWIFT: Yes
Crypto Exchange: Yes
Crypto Custody: Yes
Headquarters: Berlin
Regulation & License:  BAFIN

We simply cannot end the article without discussing Bitwala.

They have been around for a while and had a few false starts but after tying up with Solaris Bank in Germany they have got traction. It is not apparent if they continue to serve business customers, but we thought we’d add them anyway!

Their LinkedIn page describes ‘Bitwala is the first blockchain bank account. Manage everyday banking and trade and store cryptocurrencies in one account.”

Essentially via Solaris they are plugged into the European banking system allowing them to open EUR current accounts with a crypto wallet bolted on. And because they are regulated under Solaris’ BAFIN licence, fiat deposits are part of the deposit guarantee scheme. They are also well backed by known VCs and investors so this should be a recipe for success? We’ll see.

All we know is that as crypto becomes more mainstream this space is going to get more crowded. It is not  a case of winner takes all but there is not enough room for everyone. Crypto is a fast game. Those who listen to their customers and are the quickest to innovate will last.

Posted 
May 28, 2020
 in 
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