Bitcoin savings service Bittr announces closure, citing AMLD5 pressures

A bitcoin savings service based in the Netherlands is closing its doors next week, with its founder citing newly-instituted regulations as the primary cause.

Europe's continent-wide AMLD5 went live in January, putting new pressure on crypto firms – particularly those that custody funds – to adhere to anti-money laundering/know-your-customer rules. 

For Bittr – which outlined its pending closure in a blog post by founder Ruben Waterman – the potential cost and impact on its client base proved too onerous. 

"Due to upcoming regulatory changes in The Netherlands (where Bittr is based) I will have to shut down the Bittr service on April 28, 2020 09:59 UTC," Waterman wrote. "A small chance exists I will have to shut down the service even before this moment if the new regulations get published in the “Government gazette” before this time. New sign-ups and the sell bitcoin page are already disabled."

In the blog post, Waterman lamented the tightening of financial surveillance rules around AMLD5, which would have required the tiny company to hire a compliance officer and craft knew AML policies. What's more, complying with the beefed-up regulations would have cost thousands of euros for what might only be a temporary reprieve. 

"However, in that case I would still make Bittr become part of the financial surveillance system to make each and every one go through this KYC procedure and most likely still have to shut down within the next six months, which is why I prefer to not bother you with this process," Waterman wrote.

Bittr is still allowing users to sell fiat currency for bitcoin, but Waterman warned that "we may have to shut down our service before your money arrives to our bank account."

"After April 28, 2020 09:59 UTC (or sooner if the law is published in the "Government gazette") Bittr will not be able to provide any services anymore," he continued. "As of this moment, we will cancel our bank account and all bank transfers will automatically bounce back to your bank account. This may take some time before you’ll get your money, so we recommend you cancel any standing orders you have running to Bittr so that the money never even leaves your bank account."