Charles-Henry Monchau Image Credit: Supplied

DUBAI: Some UAE investors looking to profit from the Bitcoin mania are having trouble after BitOasis — the local exchange which buys and sells cryptocurrencies — disabled withdrawals and deposits from a few local banks.

In a blog post dated January 7, Dubai-based BitOasis said it has stopped supporting deposits and withdrawals from customers registered with Emirates NBD, after the bank stopped accepting some transfers.

The exchange later added Noor Bank and Mashreq to the list.

Kiran Varughese, a 32-year old engineer based in Dubai, who faced the inconvenience of opening new accounts that would accept transfers from BitOasis, told Gulf News: “It’s my money, and I can send it to any account. I don’t know why banks are not allowing it. I don’t understand the logic behind it.”

He added: “I had to open a new account as they stopped transacting with the old ones. I had an account with Mashreq, and then Emirates NDB.”

Varughese was one of the many angry BitOasis clients who complained on Twitter.

Many complained they, too, were facing delays in the withdrawal process.

BitOasis said Emirates NBD has started “randomly returning or blocking our customers’ transfers and withdrawals due to an internal policy within the bank that is out of our control.

“This has caused a major disruption to our customers, where some have been forced to change bank accounts to continue using our service,” the exchange said in the blog.


Spokespersons from Emirates NBD were not available for comment.

A spokespersons from Mashreq declined to comment, but in a tweet posted in August last year to a client’s query, Mashreq said they were “not dealing in digital currencies.”

A Noor Bank spokesperson earlier this week said in an email to Gulf News that there are “no comments from our end since the mentioned party [BitOasis] is not Noor Bank customer.”

A banking source told Gulf News that banks in the UAE strictly follow UAE Central Bank guidelines on any suspicious transactions in clients accounts, and that the central bank closely monitors high value transactions.

But according to analysts, the anonymous nature of the Bitcoin business was addressed by the underlying blockchain technology.

“Although bitcoin is decentralised, uncensorable and distributed in nature, it is not anonymous. In fact, the decentralised and open ledger of bitcoin allows anyone within the network to transparently access transactions through blockchain explorer platforms,” Charles-Henry Monchau, managing director, chief investment officer and head of investment management at Al Mal Capital, said by email.

For BitOasis clients, who have an account with Emirates NBD, Noor Bank and Mashreq Bank, the exchange operator wants them to “use other UAE/GCC-based bank accounts.”

New verifications

BitOasis has also temporarily suspended verifications, which is mandatory for all new clients wanting to trade in cryptocurrencies.

“We have temporarily paused account verifications for new customers due to the surge in user activity. We expect to re-enable verifications within the next 1-2 weeks,” BitOasis said in its blog.

Witnessing massive demand for opening new accounts, BitOasis will for now verify customers who submitted their requests from December 10 through December 24, 2017.