Like an exchange office: Accounts blocked: The crypto scandal surrounding the Berlin Bank Nouri shows the danger in the Bitcoin world
The Berlin digital bank Nuri has been aggressively promoting a “Bitcoin Income Account” with attractive 3% interest per year for almost a year. Whoever completed it could no longer get his money as it ended up in the US in a complicated way.
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Anyone who has read the terms and conditions of Nouri’s “Bitcoin Earning Account” should certainly not be surprised. But who goes that far when the Berliner Bank website still has phrases like “High Return is History”? Not with Noori’s bitcoin income account. This increases the value of your Bitcoins by up to 3% per year. And all by itself. “Advertisement?
In fact, it has now become clear that Noori’s customers have no business relationship with Noori. Because, contrary to what the advert suggests, the investors in the “Bitcoin Yield Account” have signed a contract with the American company Celsius Network – and have now stopped all payments to their customers.
The business model works like this: Nouri acted as an intermediary and offered the account on behalf of Celsius. The customers then concluded contracts with the Americans. They make a living by borrowing cryptocurrency, preferably bitcoin, from their customers in lieu of paying interest and then lending it to other customers. Celsius makes a profit when its loans pay higher interest rates than customers like Noori promise.
Celsius Network has stopped paying
As long as the cryptocurrency price keeps rising, the model works well. If you fall like last time, it will be difficult. Now, you could argue that this is true of any bank, but Celsius Network isn’t technically a bank. Legally, a company is a kind of exchange office. This means that there is no deposit insurance for Bitcoins on Celsius. And now she’s getting her revenge. With many customers reclaiming their deposits when cryptocurrency prices fall, and Celsius has always promised to pay them, the US company now has to call in loans to get the liquidity it needs. It doesn’t work well enough, which is why Celsius stopped paying on Monday. The company is said to have around $12 billion in cryptocurrencies.
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Nouri’s German customers are also affected by the payment block. How many is uncertain. According to Nouri, it has around 500,000 customers, a fraction of whom have completed a “Bitcoin omnibus account”, as Neobank boss Christina Walker-Mayer told finanz-szene.de. However, the size of this faction is unknown. However, one percent of Noori’s customers will already affect 5,000 people.
First, their money isn’t gone. It’s likely that Celsius will resume access to accounts once the US company has more cash to process payments.
risky cryptocurrency business
However, this case shows how risky it is to do business with such neobanks. As shown, Celsius’s business model doesn’t mean it’s not a bank. Even Noori customers only find out in the small print that they are not closing a Bitcoin collection account with Noori, but with Celsius and that there is no deposit insurance. Not even transparent: Nuri is not a bank per se, but a financial service provider that uses SolarisBank’s banking license and infrastructure to operate such a platform for NeoBank. But Solarisbank also denies any responsibility for the businesses of Nuri and Celsius.
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The process shows how risky crypto trades are for investors. Although Noori does not hide the risks of your Bitcoin Earnings account, they only become visible if you carefully read the terms and conditions. Only then does it become clear that Nuri is not a bank that lends money to other non-banks with Celsius and that the umbrella organization SolarisBank also assumes no liability. This business model has already run into difficulties in the USA. Regulatory officials have been preventing Celsius from opening new accounts here since mid-April. This does not apply to foreign customers, which is why Noori continues to offer a Bitcoin income account. It can still be found on the website today, although no new deals were signed at the time.
Lesson for Investors: Cryptocurrencies are based on the idea of regulating the financial markets. If you want to take part, you have to do without the well-known safeguards from the traditional banking system, such as deposit insurance. Accordingly, crypto investment is something for experienced investors who can assess and hedge the risks. Beginners should not be blinded by terms such as “earnings account” and comparatively high interest rates of 3% or more and, if in doubt, check very carefully who they are creating crypto accounts with and how. Where the money comes from – and what protection is offered to you.
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