Wednesday, August 4, 2021
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Binance ‘temporarily suspends’ payments from EU’s Sepa network

Binance said it will suspend euro bank deposits from one of Europe’s key payments networks in the latest sign of how the crypto firm is losing key connections to the conventional financial system following a regulatory crackdown.

In an email to users on Tuesday, the exchange said that from 8am universal co-ordinated time on Wednesday, customers would no longer be able to deposit funds through the Single Euro Payments Area, or Sepa, schemes. Its move was due to “events beyond our control”, the exchange said.

The network, an EU project that aims to harmonise euro payments across the region, allows consumers to send euros across three dozen countries. 

Binance, which typically accesses Sepa through payment intermediaries, described the move as “temporary”. But the restriction marks the latest prohibition on customers moving funds on to the exchange from conventional banks and other types of financial accounts. Deposits through the UK’s Faster Payments network have also been disabled over the past week. Barclays, one of the region’s biggest lenders, said on Monday that it is barring UK clients from buying cryptocurrencies on the exchange using bank cards. 

Withdrawals are still possible through Sepa and Faster Payments, according to Binance’s website. The European Payments Council, which runs Sepa, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Clear Junction, a payments processor that has provided Binance access to both Faster Payments and Sepa, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Regulators around the world have been cracking down on the sprawling company, which has processed more than $5tn in trades this year and says it lacks a formal headquarters. 

The UK’s financial watchdog last month said Binance is not authorised to run a crypto asset operation in the country, while Japan recently warned the exchange that it was doing unauthorised crypto business with Japanese citizens. Thailand has launched a criminal investigation into the company, while the Cayman Islands, where Binance is incorporated, has said the group is not licensed to do crypto business in the jurisdiction. 

Binance customers have been able to circumvent bars on depositing traditional currencies by transferring their digital coins from another crypto exchange or cryptocurrency wallet.

Binance added that users were still able to buy coins and assets on their credit and debit cards. It was “working hard to find a solution with our partners”, it added.

The exchange also allows customers to transfer euro payments through a network called Sofort, which is widely used in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. A Binance spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Sepa suspension.

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