By Elizabeth Howcroft
LONDON (Reuters) -Santander will block UK customers from sending real-time payments to cryptocurrency exchanges next year as part of measures to protect customers from scams, the bank said in an emailed statement on Friday.
At an unspecified point during 2023, the bank will introduce a block on all real-time payments to cryptocurrency exchanges made via telephone banking and in-branch payments, as well as online and mobile banking.
From Nov. 15 this year, the bank will join other UK retail banks in limiting customer transfers to cryptocurrency exchanges. Santander customers will face limits of 1,000 pounds ($1,123) per transaction and 3,000 pounds in total in any rolling 30-day period, for transfers to crypto exchanges via mobile and online banking.
Customers will still be able to receive payouts from crypto exchanges into their accounts.
Regulators around the world have warned of the risks of scams and fraud in the largely unregulated world of crypto trading.
Santander has seen a "large increase" in UK customers becoming victims of cryptocurrency fraud in recent months, a notice on its website said.
"Keeping our customers safe from cryptocurrency scams is a top priority," a Santander spokesperson said.
"We intend to further protect customers by blocking all faster payments we identify to cryptocurrency exchanges from Santander accounts – this will be implemented during the course of 2023."
Faster Payments is the infrastructure which facilitates real-time bank transfers for most UK bank accounts. Pay UK, which owns Faster Payments, said in emailed comments that it was "working with regulators and the payments industry to develop and implement better protection for victims of fraud."
Santander said it would continue to block all transfers to the crypto exchange Binance, a policy introduced in July 2021 following a warning from Britain's financial regulator about the exchange.
Binance did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Last year, Britain's Natwest Group capped the daily amount customers can send to cryptocurrency exchanges.
($1 = 0.8903 pounds)
(Reporting by Elizabeth Howcroft; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)