Protesters in front of an HSBC branch in Hong Kong in September 2019. Photo: Twitter

HSBC has shone a spotlight on the the real world use cases for censorship-resistant cryptocurrencies like bitcoin by shutting down an account used to fund Hong Kong protesters.

The UK-based financial giant recently closed a corporate account that was allegedly being used to transfer crowdsourced funds to support protesters’ activities, the Chinese-language Hong Kong Economic Journal reported on November 18.

The bank last month told the holder of the account – “The Prime Management Service Ltd” – to withdraw its money within 30 days, which falls this week, according to a South China Morning Post report.

The account has been used to raise funds for Spark Alliance HK, a non-profit organization that supports anti-government protesters by covering legal and medical services and providing aid such as food and education.

In an apparent effort to allay suspicions that the closure was politically motivated, the bank said the decision was informed by an internal accounts review that revealed that it wasn’t being used for the purposes stated in the paperwork presented when it was opened.

YouTube video

Leading crypto analyst Ran NeuNer, who advocates blockchain-based alternatives to banking, on Tuesday said institutions like HSBC are unwittingly helping to drive cryptocurrency adoption.

NeuNer, host of the Crypto Trader show on CNBC Africa, tweeted: “The best thing banks can do for Crypto is continue to close Crypto accounts.

“What they don’t see is that by closing Crypto accounts they are forcing people to adopt a new financial system.”

In October, Morgan Creek Digital co-founder Anthony Pompliano noted that the “non-seizability” of bitcoin makes it extremely attractive during times of geopolitical crisis, Cointelegraph reported.

Faced with a crackdown on civil liberties via emergency powers, anxious Hong Kong residents descended on the city’s ATMs to withdraw their funds.

Pompliano said that if they had been using bitcoin as a store of value instead of fiat currency held in a bank account, they would have remained in complete control of their finances.

“When you’re worried about your assets being seized or becoming inaccessible to you, Bitcoin’s non-seizability becomes very attractive,” Pomplianio tweeted.

Leave a comment