Australia warming up to crypto; banks still show reluctance

Australians have been moving quickly to adopt cryptocurrencies. There are entire cities built around digital currency as a form of payment and “Bitcoin Accepted Here” signs continue to pop up across the land. The rapid growth has put pressure on the Australian government to work on regulations, which have helped to define the space even better. However, there is one important sector that is still hesitate to open its arms to the Bitcoin industry—banks.

Most of the country’s banks have maintained a separation from crypto. They view the space from a distance, watching how it develops with a certain degree of trepidation before deciding whether or not to take another step closer.

Several banks in the country had initially taken the position of refusing to allow their customers to use their bank-issued cards for purchasing crypto. However, virtually all of them have loosened up their policies to a certain degree. From the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) to the country’s credit unions, they have adopted the position that using the cards for purchasing crypto is fine, provided the activity coincides with the institutions’ legal obligations and terms and conditions. They all assert that they will continue to monitor transactions for suspicious activity. That’s exactly how it should be and is no different than the framework for fiat transactions.

There is still no bank in Australia that is willing to take the plunge and begin offering crypto activities, though. The Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), the country’s largest bank, and Westpac believe that there is still too much risk in the space and others don’t want to get involved for the same reasons seen by financial institutions around the world – they’re concerned for their long-standing business model.

There is still a long way to go for cryptocurrency’s place to be fully legitimized. The transformation is happening and there is evidence of this on virtually a daily basis. It took the U.S. dollar over 100 years to be recognized as a currency, yet Bitcoin has already, to some degree, accomplished the feat in less than 10. It will truly be interesting to see where we are five years from now.

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