Bitcoin has a new ally in Norway. The biggest local online bank wants to integrate digital currency accounts and offer them to their clients. Skandiabanken is starting to consider bitcoin as a disruptive asset class: “We recognize cryptocurrency as an investment class similar to other securities,” said Christoffer Hernæs, Head of Innovation and Development of the online bank. Skandiabanken is the most important bank in Norway and it handles all its services online, which allows it to be in a position of advantage for cryptocurrency accounts, since its customers are already used to doing all their banking online. Nevertheless, having a bank offer cryptocurrency accounts may seem too ironic to be true.
Bitcoin Norway’s Way Through Skandiabanken
This new tool will be a “first step in a direction we believe in,” declared Hernæs. Bitcoin in Norway is defined as property and is taxable according to the local Tax Act. Hernæs explained that bank customers will receive a list of these taxation requirements if they start to use the bank’s new bitcoin service. That said, Skandiabanken customers will not be able to buy bitcoin directly through the bank, but they will be redirected to Coinbase. Customers can buy the digital currency using their debit or credit card, just not directly from the bank, turning Skandiabanken away from any kind of direct bitcoin brokerage system.
Other Banks Have Similar Plans
This is not the first time Norwegian banks raise the issue of offering bitcoin to their clients. In 2016, the DNB ASA bank announced a new tool on its mobile app called Vipps. This tool enables users to pay merchants with credit cards or bank accounts. Operating like PayPal, Vipps can be used to send bitcoin payments to anyone within the country just by entering a mobile number, email address or a username.
An Irony Beyond a Contradiction in Terms
What it is happening with Bitcoin in Norway is very strange because it seems to be a contradiction in terms. Digital currencies, especially Bitcoin, are geared to eliminate the middleman, making banks that offer bitcoin related services ironic. Banks worldwide and other financial institutions are afraid of this new phenomenon of digital currencies so maybe they want to exploit this situation by creating new features and services related to this market.
But, does this make any sense at all? Is it reasonable to use a bank as middleman to buy and receive bitcoin payments? It might be good fodder for mainstream bitcoin adoption, as it can simplify the way you buy digital currencies, but it still looks like an unbelievable oxymoron. Wouldn’t you agree?