A Greek friend of mine once said, “the money in your bank is yours…until it isn’t.”

It’s no secret that Canadian banks are hostile towards digital currencies. But how can we blame them?  Nobody likes competition after two hundred years of operating completely unopposed.

It’s a hostility I experienced firsthand when our team recently visited the bank to acquire an account for all the reasons banks require you to open an account (paying invoices etc).

The bank, who we’ll just call ‘Bank X’, asked us, “what is your business?”.

We answered, “we’re building a next generation digital currency mining company”.

The account manager’s reaction was quizzical. They had zero knowledge of the topic, asking us, “digital currency? What is it? Bitcoin?” We explained it was similar, but not exactly Bitcoin.  Unfortunately, Bitcoin was the fatal word. The one word not to be uttered in a banking institution.

The conversation went downhill from there. Despite our factual and professional explanations, we were not permitted to open an account. It was a frustrating and alarming encounter, but an education for us on how to present our information.  

At the next bank, we rephrased our pitch. “We are a Blockchain transaction confirmation service” we announced confidently.  It seemed that this explanation was effective in distancing us from the Bitcoin stigma. Soon enough we were blessed with the “privilege” of opening an account and handing over our money (note my sarcasm).

The experience had my brain firing. North America has (so far) avoided massive financial crises like the one that occurred in Greece. And Canada mostly survived the 2008 crisis in the United States. But that’s not say we’re immune to such situations. And those situations are exactly why Bitcoin was created. We need decentralized currencies and our access to them should not be interfered with (just ask my Greek friend).

What was clear to me after our experience with Bank X was that the financial institutions created to serve us have turned the tables, and are now taking a regulatory approach to how we (legally) earn and spend our money.

Fast forward to early May 2018.  I’ve researched several digital currencies and I’m ready to purchase my picks. Knowing the banks have blocked their customers from using credit cards for digital currency purchases (fine, it’s their credit, their choice), I use Interac E-transfers from a checking account so that I can use my own funds to make my purchase.

Unfortunately for me, my bank has other plans, and blocks my best researched and most favored Fiat currency gateway by E-transfer. You can probably appreciate my frustration: this is my cash, I should be able to use it as I wish, and yet, my bank is regulating my ability to do so.  

Thankfully, my fury quickly turns to resourcefulness.

A week later, I visit my bank and sit down with my bank manager. We review my credit cards, mortgages, credit history — my entire portfolio. With confidence established, I ask her to review the blocked transaction and ask for the explanation. 

She quickly states that all credit cards are blocked for digital currency transactions. I show her that the transaction was an E-Transfer originating from my chequing account (i.e. my money). She immediately backtracks, and explains that my account was blocked, “for my protection”.

My protection? The same institution that would permit me to drain my credit card at a casino ATM, blocks me from investing a few thousand dollars (of my own money) in a digital currency? The hypocrisy!

Control. It’s not what banks were created for. And yet, there it was.  I was denied and they had control. Are banks not here to serve their customers?  Is it fair to say they’ve lost their way?

As I write this blog, most large institutions in Canada have blocked any transactions related to digital currencies.  They are like the stubborn folks who once resisted vehicles and preferred to continue with their horses and carriages. Saying no to this generation of investors is like telling a teenager they can’t do something.  Canadians are smart, we learn fast, we’re curious, and we have the internet to learn about what is happening out there. Banks are falling behind…

Banks do not ask our permission when they make loans with our money, and yet, we have to ask them for permission on how we wish to spend our own cash. Does that sound right to you?

This hypocrisy is just one of many reasons we need decentralized currencies — it’s why we began VARIO. Now is the time to open up the digital currency market to Canadians and eliminate unnecessary obstacles to get in the game.

A Greek friend of mine once said, “the money in your bank is yours…until it isn’t.”