U.S. Markets closed

Wells Fargo customers can still buy guns with a credit card, but not bitcoin

Kate Rooney
  • Wells Fargo joined a growing list of banks banning the purchase of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin on credit cards.
  • But the bank has bucked the trend of some of its Wall Street peers like Citigroup, which has restricted the purchase of firearms on credit cards.
  • "I don't know if banks or credit card companies or any other financial institution should be the arbiter of what an American can buy," Tim Sloan, Wells Fargo's CEO at the time, told the Charlotte Observer in March.

Wells Fargo WFC customers can no longer buy cryptocurrencies like bitcoin on their credit cards, the company announced Monday. But they can still buy firearms.

The San Francisco based bank joined some of its Wall Street peers in banning the purchase of cryptocurrencies on credit cards and said its decision is "in line with the overall industry."

"We will continue to evaluate the issue as the market evolves," Wells Fargo said in a statement. "We're doing this in order to be consistent across the Wells Fargo enterprise due to the multiple risks associated with this volatile investment."

J.P. Morgan Chase , Bank of America and Citigroup C announced in February they would no longer let customers to buy cryptocurrencies using credit cards, and like Wells Fargo, cited credit risks and market volatility.

Capital One Financial said it has decided to ban cryptocurrency purchases with its cards and Discover Financial Services has effectively prohibited cryptocurrency purchases with its credit cards since 2015.

After rallying more than 1,300 percent last year to almost $20,000 in December, bitcoin is down roughly 50 percent this year. The digital currency was trading near $6,720 as of 2:00 p.m. ET Monday after a 10 percent plunge over the weekend.

Wells Fargo has gone the opposite way of some of those banks in its stance on restricting firearms purchases. In March, the bank's CEO defended that decision because of customers' right to choose.

"I don't know if banks or credit card companies or any other financial institution should be the arbiter of what an American can buy," Tim Sloan, Wells Fargo's CEO at the time, told the Charlotte Observer in March. "I don't know if Americans, regardless of which side of the issue you might be on, on whether or not folks should own guns or which type they should purchase, do they really want their bank to be making that decision?"

Wells Fargo's Chief Financial Officer John Shrewsberry said after its quarterly conference call with investors that the bank had no plans to end business relationships with gunmakers, and such a move would require "a legislative solution."

Citigroup was the first Wall Street bank to take a stance on the divisive gun control debate five weeks after a gunman killed 17 people at a high school in Parkland, Fla. The bank set restrictions on the sale of firearms to customers who are younger than 21 or have not passed a background check.

Bank of America said in April it would no longer lend to gun-manufacturing companies that produce "military style" weapons for civilians after what Anne Finucane, the bank's vice chairman, called "intense conversations" about company values.

JPMorgan Chase also said it has cut its exposure to the firearms industry and that business ties to gun manufacturers "have come down significantly and are pretty limited," Chief Financial Officer Marianne Lake said after first-quarter results.



More From CNBC