The New Zealand cryptocurrency exchange BitNZ has announced it is closing down soon due to national banks cancelling accounts of bitcoin traders.

All customers’ funds must be withdrawn before 15 April 2017, according to the BitNZ's website. The New Zealand banks’ refusal to service accounts opened for bitcoin trading makes it impossible for the exchange to operate, says the closure statement published on Reddit.

“Thanks for all your support over the years (I have processed over 11000 bank transactions since 2011) its certainly been an interesting ride.”

Other bitcoin exchanges operating in New Zealand, such as NZBCX and Instabit, have not reported any problems with banking services.

The announcement sparked a discussion among bitcoin enthusiasts. Some compare New Zealand banks’ actions with a similar move of their Australian counterparts two years ago when they refused to deal with bitcoin companies. In 2015, a group of leading Australian banks including Westpac Banking Corporation and CBA made an unexpected announcement informing at least 17 bitcoin startups that their accounts were to be closed without any further explanation. Later, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission opened an investigation to assess if the simultaneous closure of bitcoin traders’ accounts was legal. The commission cleared the banks of conspiracy allegations stating their actions were legal.

Another bitcoin user recalled an earlier example of New Zealand banks’ “anticompetitive behaviour” when they tried to prevent Apple Pay from entering their national market.

BiNZ was established in 2011. The commission fee for trading was set at 0.5%. Bitcoin withdrawal fee was at 0.0003 BTC, while withdrawals in New Zealand dollars were free of charge.

Elena Platonova

Image via Flickr

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