Metropolitan Bank Holding Corp, which is used by cryptocurrency companies and investment firms for wire transfers and deposits, has ceased all cryptocurrency-related international wires effective immediately, Fortune has learned.
A Metropolitan customer confirmed to Fortune that his investment firm was notified on Thursday morning that the bank was "ceasing all international crypto-related wire transfers to and from" it effective immediately. The reason for the shutdown, according to the customer, was because the bank could not verify the compliance of international wire transfers for cryptocurrency accounts. The move is alleged to be a response to an incident of international fraud associated with one of the bank"s clients.
Digital currency wallet Coinbase is among the companies that use Metropolitan for wire transfers, deposits, and its Shift bitcoin debit card.
Metropolitan has yet to provide further guidance on whether it plans to restore the service. It"s also unclear what might happen to the money that existing international clients have in the bank. Metropolitan did not return Fortune"s request for comment.
The bank"s abrupt decision is important for several reasons.
First, Metropolitan has been growing rapidly following its November IPO, in part because of its friendly stance toward the fast-growing cryptocurrency market. Some even refer to it as "The Bitcoin Bank." Its move to cease crypto-related international wires has the potential to curb its rapid growth in the space.
Second, U.S. funds who conduct business with the bank on behalf of their international clients are currently holding investors" money with no way to return the capital. This puts the bank and the investment firms in a precarious position.
Third, non-U.S.-based funds who exclusively manage international investors" money via Metropolitan Bank will potentially be forced to freeze or completely shutter operations.
And finally, Metropolitan Bank"s fast-growing stock could take a significant hit while its management team is still in the post-IPO lock-up period.
It"s worth noting the bank"s cryptocurrency customers may have alternative banks that cater to their needs, such as Silvergate Bank or Cross River Bank. In other words, a bank diversification strategy is usually employed to reduce risk in this type of scenario. (In response to a Fortune inquiry, Coinbase said it does not comment on its banking relationships.)
This story is developing and Fortune will update as we learn more details.