This month, an Israeli district court deliberated a motion for an interlocutory order against Bank Hapoalim. The order would obligate the bank to accept the transfer into a customer’s account of money that constituted proceeds from a sale of digital coins transacted outside of Israel.
The bank refused to accept the customer’s money, claiming exposure to violations of anti-money-laundering laws, and arguing that it is impossible to identify the source of funds in instances of transactions using digital currencies.
The court analyzed the damage liable to be caused to the customer if the bank refused to deposit the money into the customer’s account. Such a move would have resulted in the money being returned to its source (the bank account of the digital wallet outside of Israel through which the transaction was carried out), given that at issue was a bitcoin sale transaction. The court accepted the customer’s motion and issued an interlocutory order obligating the bank to accept the money. The court’s ruling applies the rationale prescribed recently by the Israeli Supreme Court in the Bits of Gold case.
Considering this district court order and the Supreme Court ruling in the Bits of Gold case, it appears the Israeli courts, which are public bodies, are more amenable to technological advancement – also in relation to digital currencies – than Israeli banks, which are business entities that should theoretically also be embracing technological advancement.
Although the judgment did not address the issue of transactions with digital currencies – but rather only the particular situation of a bank preventing the transfer of a customer’s money into his account – at its core is the idea of promoting discourse about internet banking and trading with digital currencies.