No More Bitcoin for Nordea Bank Employees, Experts Question the Motive

An act of paternalism or a case of generic Bitcoin (BTC) distrust? It is hard to make out the exact reasons for Nordea Bank’s ban on its 31,500 employees trading in Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies — even on their own time — a prohibition that was upheld on Dec. 2 by a Danish court.

In a press release posted by the court following its ruling, Nordea Bank noted that, “Employees are permitted to keep any existing [crypto] holdings,” though it added that they were encouraged to sell them.

As reported by Cointelegraph, Denmark’s finance industry union, Finansforbundet, brought a class-action lawsuit against Nordea’s cryptocurrency prohibition in 2018 on the grounds that the ban interfered with employees’ personal lives. It appears that the bank, the largest financial group in the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden), was worried that its employees might unwittingly get mixed up with some unethical or even criminal activities. As a spokesperson for Nordea Bank told Cointelegraph after the Copenhagen labor court’s decision:

“The market for crypto-currencies is unregulated and not transparent. It makes it hard to monitor where the money comes from. It increases the risk that investors, including our employees, may unwillingly get involved in activities that are unethical or outright illegal.”

He added that, “We are satisfied that the court ruled in our favour.” In the aftermath of the decision, however, others accused the bank of overreach. Jacob Pouncey, treasurer of the Nordic Blockchain Association, told Cointelegraph:

“It [the decision] is allowing a corporation to impede the private lives of its employees. It is infringing upon the personal freedoms of its employees.”

The bank’s prerogative?

In one sense, there is nothing out of the ordinary in Nordea’s prohibition. Some crypto exchanges have prohibited crypto purchases among employees, and specialized personnel within larger financial organizations, like…

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