On Friday, Italian bank Unicredit posted a tweet on its official profile in which it says it is prohibiting its account holders from interacting with counterparties that issue virtual currencies or act as exchange platforms. In practice, it prohibits them from trading Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies.
Ciao, le attuali policy di Gruppo vietano relazioni con controparti emittenti valute virtuali o che agiscono da piattaforme di scambio.
— UniCredit Italia (@UniCredit_IT) January 7, 2022
Unicredit and the tweet about Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies
In reality, it has been known for some time that the bank does not tolerate transfers to and from crypto exchanges, but yesterday’s tweet sparked a real outcry from the Italian crypto community.
Unicredit’s tweet was published as a comment on a couple of other tweets that raised the issue in response to a survey published by The Crypto Gateway.
The survey had nothing to do with banks or Unicredit, but the bank was directly implicated by a commenter who posted a screenshot of a chat conversation with Unicredit’s customer service department in which the bank threatened to close the account of a user who was using it to make transactions with crypto exchanges.
The bank responded by citing its current policies in this regard.
The Crypto Gateway’s Twitter community consists of nearly 50,000 people, so the reaction was massive.
Among the comments on the offending tweet was one from Hype, the official app of the Banca Sella Group which has been offering Bitcoin trading for some time now through a partnership with a major Italian exchange.
grazie mille per il feedback positivo ❤️
— HYPE (@Hype_tw) January 9, 2022
In addition to the hundreds of comments, some Italian cryptocurrency experts have also commented on this.
Among them is the response of Stefano Capaccioli, one of Italy’s leading experts on cryptocurrency regulation.
Sulla questione @UniCredit_IT nulla da aggiungere rispetto a quanto scritto dal sempre ottimo @s_capaccioli.
È semplice abuso di potere, illegittimo e discriminatorio.
Se avete il conto lì e scegliete di tenercelo sarete complici.
Da oggi in poi.
People have the power. pic.twitter.com/ga77tadCLj
— Bitcoin Italia Podcast (@bip_show) January 9, 2022
Capaccioli states that he has not found any reference to the prohibition of integrating accounts with crypto exchanges in the bank’s official policies, and points out that banks generally do not prohibit their account holders from using their money for legitimate activities, such as crypto exchanges.
At this point, he speculates either that the tweet was a mistake by the bank’s social media manager, or that the bank has discriminatory policies prohibiting relationships with legitimate activities for no apparent plausible reason.
However, some commentators have also pointed out that there are other banks that seem to behave in the same way, so the problem may be much more widespread than it might appear from this discussion of Unicredit’s behaviour.
Finally, it is worth remembering that Unicredit is the largest banking group in Italy.