Bitcoin Grabs Dutch Fancy as Bankers Mull New Technology

dutch31 May 2014 / Bloomberg – The Netherlands, birthplace of the world’s first stock exchange and the pioneering Dutch East India Company, is now home to banks with an unusually open mind about bitcoin.

While big banks in China and the U.S. are reluctant to do business with ventures focused on virtual currency, Dutch banks are embracing them as potential customers. National regulators aren’t cracking down as they are in other nations and major bitcoin startups are setting up shop in Amsterdam.

Alert to the possibility that bitcoin might simply be a modern version of another historic Dutch moment — the 17th-century bubble in tulip bulb prices — bankers also say they are following the lead of new clients. Customers want change, and that change could be bitcoin, said Mark Buitenhek, ING Groep NV (INGA)’s global head of transaction services.

“We are very expressly looking at what it is, what it can do and, mostly, what the message behind it is,” Buitenhek said at a recent conference. “And that tells us: Banks, take action.”

The Dutch financial industry’s relative respect for bitcoin — ING is the Netherlands’ largest bank by total assets — contrasts with the U.S. and China, where skepticism about viability and potential misuse for money laundering has made business more difficult for bitcoin startups….. Read more

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