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I just debanked my bank … before they debanked me

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There’s a huge furore in Britain about debanking: the process where a bank says we cannot trust you anymore so get lost. It happened to Nigel Farage, a high profile figure, and now it’s happened to me. What happened? My bank basically decided that my regular withdrawals from a crypto exchange looked like money laundering transactions and they weren't happy about it. This has been inspired by the fact that the UK regulatory authority has tightened rules around these areas, but the heavy-handed approach with untrained staff calling me for hours of interrogation, led to a bit of a stand-off.

Am I annoyed about this?

Yes. Mainly because I use my boring old bank to do boring old transactions for boring old services, like paying boring old utility bills and boring old mortgage payments.

They even challenged me about those things. After two months of going to and fro, I ended up in a one hour conversation with some call centre oik who asked me: why are you paying thousands of pounds each month to this bank (a well-known UK bank)? Answer: It’s my mortgage, isn’t that obvious?

That was the 48th minute of the call, where every transaction over the past three years was being challenged.

I know I’ve blogged about trust being a two-way street quite often lately, but this latest call made me debank my bank. I had already moved most funds out of the bank to other providers, but the one hour interrogation (this was the third time in two months) made me determine that my bank was no longer fit for purpose, and so I debanked them.

The thing that really got me is that the critical question was the source of funds invested in a crypto exchange, and getting statements of why and how I was withdrawing funds from that exchange.

The exchange is a regulated company subject to FCA rules, and has been around since 2018. There is nothing untoward about investing and trading on such an exchange, and yet my bank decided there was. I claimed this was quite ridiculous, but the bank said they had to raise these questions about my withdrawals from such an exchange under UK AML laws.

After two months of this to and fro, I made a decision to switch accounts, and so I have. Luckily, under separate UK laws, it’s easy to switch. You just ask and the bank does the switch for you. It takes seven days or less and it’s done.

Meanwhile, I’m sitting here festering over the fact that the bank I’ve used for a decade decided that they don’t trust me anymore. As a result, I don’t trust them anymore, took all my money out of my account and switched to a bank I don’t really want to have an account with.

It’s their choice, not mine but, in the words of Citizen Smith:  “Come the revolution, you'll be first against the wall bop-bop-bop!”



A lawyer fundraising for humanitarian aid in Ukraine has been debanked by Barclays and NatWest. Sergei Grachev, who is a British citizen, used a Barclays account to pay for vital supplies to be sent to civilian medics on the frontlines of the war in Ukraine in 2022, shortly after the conflict began. But just five months later, in July, he received a letter from Barclays stating his accounts would all be shut down. He then switched to NatWest, only to be debanked again in August last year. Both banks have refused to provide a reason for the account closures. Mr Grachev, 53, who lived in the Soviet Union, said the treatment he has received by two of Britain’s largest banks is “worse” than anything he experienced in communist Russia.

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Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog,, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal's Financial News. To learn more click here...

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