Shinsei Bank Ltd. has been refusing international money transfer requests from customers if they find that the transactions are related to the buying and selling of bitcoin.
“The decision, which has been effective since February, is based on our comprehensive judgment as a bank,” a bank spokeswoman told The Wall Street Journal. “We have not determined yet whether we will lift the ban in the future.” She declined to specify why the bank made the decision.
Like in other countries, bitcoin’s public image in Japan has taken a bit of a beating, especially after news broke about the connections between bitcoin and online drug marketplace Silk Road, as well as the collapse of Tokyo-based bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox, which said it had lost 850,000 bitcoins, worth half a billion dollars at the time.
No other major banks in Japan, including Internet-based lenders, have said they will take similar action on the crypto-currency.
Bitcoin users have been complaining on a public Facebook group page that the bank has been refusing money transfers from overseas bitcoin exchanges to their accounts at the bank.
The Shinsei spokeswoman said the decision is currently effective only on international wire transfers but not on domestic money transfers. That’s because it is easier for the bank to be aware of the purpose of international transactions as it is required by Japanese law to ask customers about why they are making the wire transfer.
“On domestic wire transfers, it is very difficult to implement such a policy,” the spokeswoman said.
Wall Street Journal