Bank of Montreal mulling bitcoin acceptance

We reported in February of how the Bank of Montreal was shutting down business accounts that had any affiliation with bitcoin. Two months later, the Canadian financial institution is now open to allowing bitcoin transactions if the digital currency becomes regulated.

Speaking in an interview with the Financial Post after the bank’s annual general meeting in Toronto, BMO CEO Bill Downe considered the change if the virtual currency were to become reliable and regulations were clearly outlined by the federal government or the Bank of Canada. If this were to be done “then there’s no reason why we couldn’t be an intermediary in bitcoin-related transactions.”

“Because, if you wanted a Swiss franc transaction or a Japanese yen transaction or a U.S. dollar transaction, we can do that transaction for you,” he said. “If bitcoin [can be] a reliable medium of exchange, then at that point in the future, we would be able to [conduct business] with bitcoin.”

BitcoinThe peer-to-peer decentralized currency has been a thorn in banks’ eyes for a long time. One of the primary features that has irritated payment system providers and financial institutions is cost-savings: each time a credit card or debit card is used for a transaction a three percent fee is charged to a merchant and inevitably passed onto consumers, but bitcoiners can bypass this fee.

Canadian banks haven’t had an open mind in relation to the cryptocurrency. It was noted that the Calgary-based VirtEx bitcoin exchange platform was informed their accounts were being closed without being provided with any reason.

At the present time, the Bank of Canada, the federal government or the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions do not regulate the digital currency. The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) classified bitcoin and other digital currencies as like any other commodity and would be subjected to taxation.