The recent failures of banks providing services to crypto firms in the United States have raised concerns in the crypto community about a perceived “de-banking” of the industry. In response, the Blockchain Association has called on financial regulators to provide information about their actions in relation to the banks’ failures. The association has submitted Freedom of Information Act requests to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the board of governors of the Federal Reserve System, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, seeking documents and communications that could potentially show if regulators’ actions “improperly contributed” to the banks’ collapse.
The Blockchain Association believes that crypto firms should be treated like any other law-abiding business in the U.S. and given access to bank accounts. The association is investigating allegations of account closures and refusals to open new accounts by banks against crypto firms, which it believes are part of a wider trend of de-banking the industry.
The recent banking crisis in the crypto industry began with the announcement by Silvergate’s parent company on March 8 that it would “wind down operations” for the crypto bank. This was followed by Silicon Valley Bank’s own failure after a run on deposits on March 10, and the closure of Signature Bank on March 12 by regulators. Some in the crypto community believe that federal regulators’ perceived attack on banks servicing crypto firms could force companies to turn to “shadier” options.
Prior to its closure, Signature Bank was considered a major crypto-friendly bank in the U.S., providing services to Coinbase, Paxos Trust, BitGo, and Celsius. The FDIC’s resolution handbook states that an acquirer tells the FDIC what assets and liabilities from the failed bank it is willing to take, as well as what (if any) money will change hands.
Former U.S. Representative and Signature board member Barney Frank reportedly claimed the FDIC was sending a “strong anti-crypto message” in shutting down the bank, and some lawmakers are demanding answers. The recent actions by regulators have prompted concerns in the crypto community about the potential for a wider crackdown on the industry by regulators. The Blockchain Association’s calls for transparency from financial regulators are part of wider efforts to ensure that crypto firms are treated fairly and given access to banking services like any other business.