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ABN AMRO Trials Bitcoin Wallet Where Bank Holds Private Keys

Jan 23, 2019 8:30 AM +00:00

Dutch bank ABN AMRO has unveiled cryptocurrency storage facilities which will see its clients able to deposit Bitcoin (BTC) alongside fiat currency.

500 Clients Trial Bitcoin Storage

In what appears to be a marked change of stance on the sector, officials confirmed a trial was underway with 500 account holders on social media January 22.

According to marketing literature uploaded to Twitter, ABN AMRO aims to offer Bitcoin storage in the same online banking environment customers use for their day-to-day activities through a product called ‘Wallie.’

The move sees ABN first to provide direct Bitcoin tools out of the major Dutch banks, beating off competition from Rabobank, which had announced a similar project, ‘Rabobit,’ in February last year.

In a sign of the experimental nature of its Bitcoin integration, ABN’s official webpage on cryptocurrency still states the bank does not support it.

“…Cryptocurrencies are not controlled, issued or guaranteed by a central bank,” it warns.

De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB) and the Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM) have regularly published press releases over the past period in which they warn investors and consumers of the risks of cryptocurrencies. You can not therefore invest in bitcoins or other cryptocurrencies at ABN AMRO.

Hoi! Jazeker! Heb je dit bericht ontvangen? We doen op dit moment een experiment met 500 klanten. :) ^Roeland

— ABN AMRO (@ABNAMRO) January 22, 2019

Friend Or Foe?

The exact reasons for the change of heart remain unknown. In its current form, the Bitcoin wallet constitutes something of a compromise; users will not hold their private keys, while the bank says it will provide insurance guarantees for up to €6,000 worth of funds.

Rabobank had similarly surprised when it revealed its wallet plans, having also put out highly critical material on Bitcoin.

For many cryptocurrency advocates, however, even custody ‘solutions’ such as ABN’s cause frustration rather than celebration.

Consumers’ lack of control over their private keys, and hence actual control of the bitcoins, mean they are not actually embracing Bitcoin at all, some argue. In short, custodial ‘ownership’ of bitcoin goes against the reason why Bitcoin was created in the first place: removing trust and middlemen from money. 

Earlier this month, an event organized by entrepreneur Trace Mayer even attempted to spark the opposite effect – making Bitcoin users withdraw all their capital from trusted third parties.

What do you think about ABN AMRO’s Bitcoin wallet trial? Let us know in the comments below!

Images courtesy of Shutterstock

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