Hall of shame

We have been running a cryptocurrency arbitrage business for a while now, and have had a number of poor experiences with financial institutions. I thought I'd outline the worst here, so that nobody else falls into the same traps we have.

I've also included some poor personal experiences with banks and other money-handling institutions, since I seem to be unlucky in this regard.

These are sorted in order of inconvenience.

Wise - £1500 lost

Hello Adam,

We’ve checked the info that you sent us and we won’t be able to send you the refund of the remaining funds.

Unfortunately, we can’t tell you the specific reason why — it’s because of how we’re regulated. But this decision was fully based on the Terms of Use you agreed on when signing up.

Didn't even get my name right!

Wise is perhaps the least professional financial institution we have used, resulting in the loss of over £1400 of client funds. Our account was frozen for 3 months after our first chargeback, and only around £100 of the £1500 in our account was ever returned to us.

Starling Bank - £800 lost

Another trigger-happy freezer, Starling Bank froze my account 3 times, for weeks at a time, keeping £800 of client money for themselves. They not-so-subtly hinted that any leftover money would be sent to their charity account, and asking me to withdraw it if I didn't want this to happen. The withdrawal function was disabled due to my account being frozen. Ultimately, they closed my account, and attempts to recoup the money received the classic "sorry, we can't do that, and we also can't tell you why" response that I understand UK banks have to give due to overreaching governmental control of people's personal banks in response to a small minority conducting illegal activities like money laundering and carding.

Barclays

Having had a Barclays account for the best part of a decade, I was familiar with their outdated business practices, opaque management processes and ancient software stack, so this didn't come as a surprise. After receiving a high value trade, they simply closed my account, no money was lost, but having my oldest bank account closed did impact my credit score, so a warning to people using this disposable bank for cryptocurrency arbitrage: don't.

Nationwide

We’ve concerns over 6 credits of £41.26, £250, £210, £220, £250, £19.50 which had been paid to your account ****3892 between 21/04/2022 – 24/02/2022
As a result of this we’ve frozen your account whilst we investigate. If you wish to withdraw funds, you’ll be able to withdraw your credits from DWP & Salary with photo ID in your local branch.

Not that much to complain about here, despite having to wait over a month before my account was reinstated. All the money was there, but I had to provide a significant amount of information that I'm not certain the customer service understood due to the intricacies of the niche market we operate in.

The key takaway here is that despite being crypto-friendly, and seemingly crypto-business friendly, they will flag your account for fraud, even if you haven't received any chargebacks, just because of the volume of money coming in. I've heard of people using Nationwide to run businesses for over 20 years without issues, but this was not my experience.

Revolut - actually quite reasonable

Revolut, unlike the other entries on this list, never undertook a violent action against my Revolut Business account, instead serving me with a termination notice, but I still had the ability to withdraw my funds.

If you get a page asking you to upload proof for a series of transactions, don't bother. It's extremely time consuming and they'll close your account afterwards anyway.

Monzo

I was a little surprised to find myself writing my favourite bank in the hall of shame. I was quering whether their services would be suitable for doing cryptocurrency arbitrage, and was horrified to see that they had begun the process of closing my business bank account unrelated to the query, immediately after answering my question.

Wirex

Where do I even start. Wirex is not exactly known for their good customer service experience. Wirex seemed like an excellent service I could use to easily spend profit from my crypto business without the hassle of exchanging it into fiat. I could simply pick a cryptocurrency to top up my card with, and spend it in that cryptocurrency in any country without first exchanging it to fiat. What's more, it seemed to have better rates than Monzo or Revolut for spending abroad, becuase there was no fiat conversion, I was simply exchanging my cryptocurrency for whatever fiat currency I needed at that time.

However, what looks good on paper turned out to be an unprecedented customer service disaster. I was asked to "verify my address details". No biggie I thought, I'm sure given their automated enrolment KYC process, they have implemented an automated product for doing this, so I didn't have to wait months for their overloaded support team to review my documents manually. Right?

I guess I wouldn't be writing this if that was the case. It took them several months to get around to reviewing my account, and after a few prematurely closed conversations with frontline support, they did finally review my address proof and reactivated my account. However, for the duration of this freeze, my cryptoassets continued fluctuating in price, and I was not able to spend, withdraw, or even exchange them to fiat to avoid this.