Cracking Compliance: Traditional banking for unconventional business clients

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Cryptocurrencies and the companies that create and manage them may seem to operate in a plane separate from the traditional banking sector. But in reality, to run a business, hire staff, buy servers/equipment, rent an office, and pay utilities and taxes, every business needs at least some fiat currency. This means that cryptocurrency exchanges in most cases still need to rely on business banking services from more traditional banking services providers.

However, it can be challenging for cryptocurrency exchanges to find business banking services through traditional banks. This is particularly the case for up-and-coming Canadian crypto exchanges looking for business banking services here at home.

It is not without good reason that, historically, cryptocurrency has been taboo for banks. The anonymity and barriers to satisfying regulatory requirements that are the foundation of many currencies and exchanges often make traditional business banking off limits. Banks are built upon the tenets of knowing customers, avoiding money laundering, and minimizing financial and brand risk.

As blockchain technology becomes more integrated across sectors and cryptocurrencies take a growing place in the financial and business landscape, lack of knowledge, balancing needs of various customers, or fear may hinder more traditional financial institutions from taking part in this growing segment of the economy. 

ATB is not afraid of testing new waters, so we started the journey of exploring the risks and opportunities of cryptocurrency banking services. We started by carefully examining the different segments of the cryptocurrency space and identifying areas where ATB could feasibly work within regulatory compliance requirements. 

When we first explored the possibility of providing business banking services to firms operating in the cryptocurrency space, our traditional risk and compliance measures resulted in a big ‘NO’. This provided us with an exceptional opportunity to look again at our systems to see how we might be able to get to a ‘yes’. Working directly with cryptocurrency experts, we made the big first step of identifying KYC (Know-your-customer) and AML (anti-money-laundering) thresholds that would have to be met in order for a business to qualify for business banking with ATB.

Crossing the threshold of banking with a cryptocurrency based business would be a big thing for a traditional institution like ATB. 

It is a perfect fit for ATB to lead the way on business banking for cryptocurrency businesses in Alberta. We see benefits for ATB, our clients, and for the overall economy. For our eighty-year history, we have been dedicated to transforming quickly to support Albertans as they build businesses in an ecosystem known for innovation, entrepreneurship, and calculated risk taking. ATB understands that different business sectors have different banking needs, they don’t all fit in the same box. We’ve done it before with business banking for Arts and Culture and now we’re learning how we can support cryptocurrency business with banking services..

Blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies will be part of the future. Being a jurisdiction known for supporting businesses and fostering a developer community around new technologies has great potential to positively impact the entire business community in Alberta.

Now that we’ve got our foot in the door, we’re looking to the future for how we can overcome barriers to provide the next generation of business and consumer banking products and services that Albertans need.