The Northern European financial services group Nordea recently announced it is banning employees from trading cryptocurrencies privately, using their own money.
Referring to the decision, a spokesman for Sweden's Financial Supervisory Authority said that "every institution must decide on the details of their internal regulations specifying the rules for their employees' investments and trading," suggesting that the regulatory agency does not intend to interfere in Nordea's decision, nor act against similar moves that may be taken by other companies.
A spokesman for the European Banking Federation (EBF), who believes that Nordea's ban may be the first of its kind in Europe, reportedly suggested that the EBF might eventually have to weigh in on the matter, considering that the European Central Bank and the central banks of individual European nations "are taking a look at this." For the moment, however, the EBF has no official stance on cryptocurrencies.
Stefan Ingves, the governor of Sweden's central bank, described the practice of investing in bitcoin as "dangerous" in December 2017.
Companies in the US have, both formally and informally, developed policies against investing in cryptocurrencies and cryptocurrency derivatives, but Nordea has gone a step further in disallowing employees from purchasing digital assets for themselves.
Responding to questions about the ban, Nordea spokeswoman Afroditi Kellberg said that:
"It is widespread practice across the banking industry to restrict the personal account dealing of staff to prevent them taking positions in speculative investments, or which might expose them to a risk of financial loss and therefore impact their financial standing."
While the company advises customers against investing in virtual currencies and related financial instruments, it "provides access to trade all securities listed on, for example, Nasdaq," meaning that some clients can purchase cryptocurrency derivatives "through the platform."
By contrast, Danske Bank A/S, the biggest financial group based in Denmark, does not allow its clients to trade digital assets. Furthermore, while it advises its staff against trading in cryptocurrencies, it has yet to introduce a hard ban on the employee side, according to company spokesman Kenni Leth. However, Leth revealed, the bank is weighing the possibility of introducing such a prohibition.