Visa and Mastercard have left open key gateways between Binance and the financial system despite rising regulatory scrutiny on the cryptocurrency exchange that has prompted some banks and smaller payments companies to cut ties.
Barclays and Santander — two of the biggest UK lenders — have in recent weeks stopped their customers from sending funds to Binance through their payment cards, citing a consumer alert issued last month by the Financial Conduct Authority against Binance.
Some other payments partners have also backed away, making it harder for customers to move money to and from the Cayman Islands-incorporated exchange. But the continuing access to two of the world’s biggest credit card systems — typically through intermediary payments companies — means Binance is still able to offer its customers an easy way to move conventional currencies to the exchange, underlining its sprawling and resilient network.
Visa told the Financial Times it was “aware of the recent FCA statement regarding Binance” and that it was in “dialogue with Binance to monitor developments”. Mastercard said “we continue to monitor this situation, including how the exchanges fulfil their regulatory requirements”.
Neither company is stopping consumers, including those in the UK, from using payment cards on Binance.com, the main Binance exchange.
Binance also offers a Visa-branded debit card to its customers that allows them to use funds from their crypto wallets at everyday retailers by converting digital assets into typical currencies.
The Binance card is available in many European countries including Germany, France, Italy and Spain, according to the group’s website. It is issued by Contis, a group that partners with Visa and provides payments services in the EU through a so-called e-money license from Lithuania’s central bank. Contis declined to comment on its relationship with Binance.
Binance has maintained that it takes its “legal obligations very seriously”.
The exchange’s links to traditional finance have garnered heightened attention after several regulators around the world clamped down on the company. The UK financial regulator said Binance was not authorised to run a cryptoasset business in the country, while other jurisdictions have warned that the group is not regulated by their financial watchdogs. Thailand has filed a criminal complaint against Binance for allegedly operating in the Southeast Asian nation without a licence.
Binance has typically tapped conventional currency channels through payment partners such as Checkout.com and Clear Junction, which themselves have direct or indirect connections to major payments networks.
Some of those ties have begun fraying as the group has faced criticism over its practices to prevent potential money laundering, the financing of terrorism and scams on its platform.
Clear Junction, which had been an important European payments partner for Binance, said on Monday it would “no longer be facilitating payments” for the company. The group had provided Binance access to Sepa, a European payments network that allows for euro transfers between three dozen countries, and Faster Payments, a UK equivalent that facilitates sterling transfers between high street banks.
Clear Junction’s decision to stop providing Binance payments services was triggered by the FCA’s consumer warning, Dima Kats, the London-based group’s chief executive, told the Financial Times. BCB Group, another UK-based payments company that focuses on the crypto industry, also ended its relationship with Binance earlier this year, according to a person familiar with the matter. Binance declined to comment on the…