Chile's Anti-Monopoly Court Resolves to Keep Bank Accounts Open for Cryptocurrency Firms

Cryptocurrency trading desks in Chile have reportedly been granted protection by the nation’s anti-monopoly court, which requires that financial institutions continue to offer banking services to those dealing in digital assets.

Local news outlet Diario Financiero reported (on January 2nd) that the Chilean anti-monopoly court, the Tribunal de Defensa de la Libre Competencia (TDLC), had conducted a poll asking its members whether crypto firms should be allowed access to bank accounts. According to local cryptoasset exchange, Buda.com, which was affected by restrictions previously placed by Chilean banks, the TDLC poll results showed that most respondents voted in favor of allowing crypto firms access to banking services.

Next month, the TLDC will be reviewing testimonies from both parties and Chile’s top government officials including the nation’s finance minister, Felipe Larrain will be present at the hearings. Jose Ramon Valente, the Chilean economy minister, and Segismundo Schulin-Zeuthen, the president of Chile’s banks association, will also be attending the hearings.

Local Banks Request That Anti-Monopoly Court Cancel Protection Measures 

In December 2018, the nation’s Supreme Court had stated that Chilean banks were not obligated to providing banking services to digital currency exchanges. The Supreme Court explained that transactions involving cryptocurrencies posed risks to investors as these were not yet regulated in the South American country.

The state-owned Banco del Estado and Itau Corpbanca, the fourth largest commercial bank in Chile with over $48 billion in total assets, have appealed to the anti-monopoly court, asking it to cancel its protection measures. Responding to the statements made by both banks, the TDLC noted that the Supreme Court’s ruling (in favor of closing crypto-related accounts) did not create judicial precedent to uplift previous resolutions.

In March 2018, Chilean crypto exchanges Buda.com, OrionX, and CryptoMKT had revealed that their bank accounts had been suspended by the nation’s financial institutions. However, the TDLC acted quickly by granting them protection, and the nation’s finance minister said Chile’s financial regulators would be working on drafting regulations for cryptocurrencies.

Chile's Finance Minister: Regulations Take Time To Implement

In December 2018, Larrain stated that the country’s regulatory authorities were still in the process of preparing a regulatory framework for digital assets. Commenting on the time-consuming nature of developing regulations, Larrain had said last month: 

We are aware that it is important to move in this direction. But all countries in the world are facing similar problems [with regulating cryptoassets], and there is no magic wand to solve them. We are exploring the best solutions to see how to regulate this brand new phenomenon.

As CryptoGlobe reported in September of last year, only about 39% of Chilean citizens responding to a nationwide survey had said they had at least heard of digital currencies. Other findings from the study suggest that younger people were more likely to be interested in learning more about cryptoassets.

Men in Chile also appeared to be more knowledgeable about cryptocurrency trading (compared to women of the same age groups).