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

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.


Global renewable power capacity to rise by 50% in five years

Updated 21 October 2019

Global renewable power capacity to rise by 50% in five years

  • Solar PV will account for nearly 60 percent of this growth and onshore wind 25 percent
  • Falling technology costs and more effective government policies have helped to drive the higher forecasts for renewable capacity deployment

LONDON: Global renewable energy capacity is set to rise by 50 percent in five years’ time, driven by solar photovoltaic (PV) installations on homes, buildings and industry, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).
Total renewable-based power capacity will rise by 1.2 terawatts (TW) by 2024 from 2.5 TW last year, equivalent to the total installed current power capacity of the United States.
Solar PV will account for nearly 60 percent of this growth and onshore wind 25 percent, the IEA’s annual report on global renewables showed.
The share of renewables in power generation is expected to rise to 30 percent in 2024 from 26 percent today.
Falling technology costs and more effective government policies have helped to drive the higher forecasts for renewable capacity deployment since last year’s report, the IEA said.
“Renewables are already the world’s second largest source of electricity, but their deployment still needs to accelerate if we are to achieve long-term climate, air quality and energy access goals,” said Fatih Birol, the IEA’s executive director.
“As costs continue to fall, we have a growing incentive to ramp up the deployment of solar PV,” he added.
The cost of generating electricity from distributed solar PV (PV systems on homes, commercial buildings and industry) is already below retail electricity prices in most countries.
Solar PV generation costs are expected to decline a further 15 percent to 35 percent by 2024, making the technology more attractive for adoption, the IEA said.
However, policy and tariff reforms are needed to ensure solar PV growth is sustainable and avoid disruption to electricity markets and higher energy costs, the report said.