upfront, the disclaimer: I'm the product manager for Bitcoin business at Fidor Bank, Munich (The bank, operating with the marketplaces Bitcoin.de and Kraken.com)
The discussion in the article is interesting, though it misses the point (in my opinion).
As what i've heard from the Bitcoin industry, indeed it may be a problem in getting support from banks.
But the denail of this support is not in the sense as mentioned in the article; and yes, big sorry for that, this article obviously smells to me like conspiracy+aliens+nazis-on-the-moon+"guys-meeting-in-a-carpeted-room-and-having-a-cigar-and-a-bottle-of-wine-to-decide-whom-to-support".
No one ever has asked and discussed the role of banks in the whole thing.
I haven't checked the banks the colleague in the article has tried to work with. But:
For "big banks" (whatever this may mean in your perspective), it may be somewhat problematic to support companies on a level beyond a regular bank account, because if you need regulatory consulting, this is something that doesn't work straight-through - instead, it involves a lot of tailormade solutions (and country by country, in the worst case)
If you do a business, that a bank can't judge, the bank is free to deny support. Classic business, a standard banks understands it. But Bitcoin? Since this is new, and since no body has real(!) experience with it, they do not know how to evaluate. Plus: If the police/government/regulatory-authority finds out that you are supporting a big money-laundering-factory (by giving a bank account to them), there are people at the bank who may be put in jail, just because they didn't understand/didn't know. (And if you are not specialized in those new things, and if you have no experience with this new phenomena, its very likely that you do not understand whats going on! People in good-'ol corporate banking come from a completely different background, so they can't have the experience)
And thats the rub: Instead of complaining why someone doesn't get a bank account, try to imagine -for a second- if anybody of you would be in that position - and i guess, no one of you would take the risk, right? :-)
So, the most simple thing is just to deny the application for a bank account, instead of spending hours and hours of investigating and jumping into the materia...
The above mentioned #2 is evebn more important, if you consider how many requests you get from people interested in running/starting a Bitcoin-whatever-business:
Since market is new, there is a gold rush, barriers are low (at least it seems like to most people), and every kid today thinks of running an exchange is that easy. In fact it is not. (and i confirm this to you since i do have a lof background/insider informations).
So, imagine the position of the bank:
- You do not have the people & experience yet
- You get tons of requests from startups, most of them will never survive
- If there is a business opportunity for your company, you just don't know - but you have to invest a lot of money(!) to get something on the road
Now the magical question:
WHAT do you do? :-))
For most Bitcoin businesses out there, its not that you just need a simple bank account; if you want to operate in the current scenario, you need a lot more, depending on the country and the opinion of the regulatory authority. This involves a lot of work, a lot of time, a lot of money, a lot of uncertainty etc.
(By the way: If you want to exchange money, you need a license - but in Bitcoins, everyone thinks having no regulation is good? Maybe you wanna think about that twice)
And since all of these costs, most banks just say no, because its the easier and more efficient answer.
Here is now the conspiracy-theory part:
Why, ever, should any bank deny a startup because it works with Bitcoins? Its just a too simple thought, because every bank is interested in doing & expanding business, so why would they have a interested in shuting-down you just because you use a new currency?
Most people think, banks do not support it currently, because its a new currency which will attack "the power structure" of the current monetary system (which is, obviously, somewhat flawed and i can tell you this because i'm working in this sector ;-)
But maybe you wanna read #6.
Biggest problem is to think, that even if Bitcoin will rule the world tomorrow, that there are no more banks. Even at T(0) after Bitcoin has taken over the world, there will be "banks" - maybe not what you think a bank is today, but even then there will be banks. Why? Its just not practical for your parents in their 50's to carry around a USB stick with all their assets on it. Its just a dumb idea. And even if the todays digital natives have reached their 50's, and even if they are "native with Bitcoin", also then its a very very bad idea to have all you assets in your pocket or at your apparment.
No comes the advertorial of my post ;-)
Since Fidor Bank is a very young bank, we are able to support those types of business and we are proud to work with our partners www.bitcoin.de and www.kraken.com in the area of Bitcoin exchanges. We do this, because we think that the financial sector needs innovation and disruption. And yes, even if we are a bank (see #6 above), we do not belive that banks will be passed away. We have an optimistic approach on that.
Regards from Munich,