Business 9 February 2018

Erik Gibbs

Major Aussie banks give green light for cryptocurrency purchases

In light of the recent substantial drop in the cryptocurrency market, many banks, like Bank of America and the Bank of Scotland, are tying their clients’ hands when it comes to matters of cryptocurrency. A few banks in the land down under, however, have put out the welcome mat.

The news comes only a few short weeks after a supposed embargo was announced by Australian banks. In total, three of the four biggest banks in the country have taken a permissive to supportive position, while the fourth has remained silent on the subject.

Australian news outlet ABC recently contacted the banks to find out how they were addressing the crypto issue with their clients. In general, the banks are taking a hands-off approach, which allows the banks’ customers to determine how to manage their funds. However, the banks have set some conditions for participation in cryptocurrency markets.

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) told the ABC that the bank has no policy in place that would prevent its clients from buying, selling or trading cryptocurrencies, whether in an investment or retail environment. A bank spokesperson added that ANZ routinely monitors transaction for suspicious behavior. This allows the bank to protect its customers, and itself, against possible fraud and also ensures adherence to government regulations.

The bank, however, has a policy of not providing services to businesses that issue, deal or exchange cryptocurrency, as it goes against company policy being an unregulated market.

The popular Westpac bank is more open to the subject. It has no existing policy prohibiting its clients from using Westpac credit cards to purchase digital currencies. It’s important to point out that this position may change. When asked if there were any plans at the bank to implement a prohibitive policy in the future, a bank spokesperson wouldn’t comment.

Australia’s National Bank of Australia (NAB) is more introverted and cautionary. While it doesn’t completely block cryptocurrency transactions, it maintains the right to deny transactions Since the Australian Securities and Investments Commission doesn’t support the unregulated nature of cryptocurrencies, users have no legal recourse if something goes awry and might need be protected. This leads NAB to monitor the transactions, and block those it feels are questionable.

Meanwhile, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) decided to keep silent and not respond to the request for details. In spite of their lack of communication, the bank has a history of preventing its customers from sending wire transfers to cryptocurrency exchanges.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as BTC coins; tokens on the Bitcoin Cash ABC chain are referenced as BCH, BCH-ABC or BAB coins.

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