US and British banks ban bitcoin purchases using credit cards

Bitcoin, the biggest and best-known cryptocurrency, has fallen dramatically from its peak of $19,187 recorded on December 16 and was down by 6 percent to $7,700 at 1100 GMT on Bitstamp. (Reuters)
Updated 05 February 2018
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US and British banks ban bitcoin purchases using credit cards

Banks in Britain and the US have banned the use of credit cards to buy Bitcoin and other “cryptocurrencies,” fearing a plunge in their value will leave customers unable to repay their debts.
Lloyds Banking Group, Britain’s biggest lender, said on Sunday it would ban its credit card customers from buying cryptocurrencies, following the lead of US banking giants JP Morgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup.
The move is aimed at protecting customers from running up huge debts from buying virtual currencies on credit, if their values were to plummet, a Lloyds spokeswoman said.
Concerns have arisen among credit card providers because their customers have increasingly been using credit cards to fund accounts on online exchanges, which are then used to purchase the digital currencies.
Last week Mastercard, the world’s second-biggest payments network, said customers buying cryptocurrencies with credit cards fueled a 1 percentage point increase in overseas transaction volumes in the fourth quarter.
At that time Bitcoin was staging a spectacular rise in value, reaching a peak of $19,187 on December 16 on the Luxembourg-based Bitstamp exchange.
But the biggest and best-known cryptocurrency has since fallen dramatically and on Monday was down by 6 percent to $7700 at 1100 GMT on Bitstamp, extending losses from Friday amid worries of a global regulatory clampdown.
A spokeswoman for Chase bank said it is not currently processing credit card purchases of cryptocurrencies because of the volatility and risk involved, while a Citi spokeswoman confirmed a similar ban, but did not give a reason.
The bans extend only to credit card purchases, with debit card users still able to buy cryptocurrencies.
“Across Lloyds Bank, Bank of Scotland, Halifax and MBNA, we do not accept credit card transactions involving the purchase of cryptocurrencies,” the Lloyds spokeswoman said in an email.
Lloyds did not say how it planned to enforce the ban, although the Telegraph newspaper reported on Sunday that its credit card customers will be blocked from buying Bitcoin online through a “blacklist” that will flag sellers.
A spokeswoman from the Royal Bank of Scotland declined to comment on the bank’s policy.
Other leading British lenders including Barclays, and HSBC did not immediately respond to requests for comment on whether they permit credit card purchases of cryptocurrencies or had any plans to change their policies.
Concerns about the use of Bitcoin and other such currencies extend beyond the use of credit cards for borrowing.
British Prime Minister Theresa May has said Britain should take a serious look at digital currencies such as Bitcoin because of the way they can be used by criminals.


Oman govt announces the creation of thousands of new jobs for locals

Updated 8 min 49 sec ago
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Oman govt announces the creation of thousands of new jobs for locals

  • Government says new highway project will be completed by Fall 2019
  • More than 65,000 nationals were employed since Oman introduced an expat visa ban

DUBAI: Oman’s government has announced the creation of 2,500 jobs for its citizens in a series of transport development projects, national daily Times of Oman reported.

The projects are the development of the Adam-Thumrait highway in the south of the country which is due for completion by autumn 2019, the reuse of the old Muscat airport, and the research on the operation of Musandam Airport.

This announcement comes as the Omanization project continues as the government works to reduce the number of Omanis out of work.

An expat visa ban was introduced last year, which has led to the employment of more than 65,000 locals in the private and public sectors.

Before Omanization, almost 71 percent of Oman’s labor force were expatriates.