Australia’s largest bank recently blocked payments to some crypto exchanges by applying partial restrictions. The decision was part of its new suite of anti-scam measures. The bank’s executive pointed out that customers who make payments to crypto exchanges currently face a “significantly higher risk of potentially being scammed.”
Before that, another Australian ‘Big 4’ bank, Westpac, blocked some crypto payments to similarly put a cap to scam losses. Around the same time, Binance Australia suspended its fiat deposits and withdrawals. Specifically, its local settlement provider ceased support for the exchange.
Now, blockchain industry stalwarts in Australia have called out the restrictions. Blockchain Australia announced today that it intends to tackle this issue “head-on” by using “real data.”
According to the industry body, the blanket restrictions have “very costly side effects.” On one hand, it limits consumers’ use of their own money. On the other, it also makes users at the risk of scams or fraud even more vulnerable. Thus, stakeholders believe that it will be more effective for banks to provide “opt-in protection and education” to users.
Roundtable discussion to be held on June 27
Jackson Zeng, CEO of Caleb and Brown underlined that all digital currency exchanges operating in Australia are registered with AUSTRAC, the national AML regulator. He further pointed out that the Australian crypto industry has been “diligent in its pursuit of tailored, fit-for-purpose regulation.” Expressing resentment w.r.t. the latest decisions, he said,
“The recent decision by banking institutions to restrict millions of their customers from making payments to cryptocurrency exchanges represents a profound curtailment of economic freedom in Australia.”
“Every individual has the inherent right to the economic freedom to make decisions on how and where to use their finances or allocate their investments. The principal role of banks is to facilitate these decisions, not to impose restrictions upon them.”
Michael Bacina, the Chair of Blockchain Australia noted that there is an “outsized impact” on all customers of a business when payment restrictions or debunking takes place. In fact, according to the executive, this can be “fatal for the business” in many cases.
Thus, Blockchain Australia has decided to host a roundtable discussion on June 27. The concerns will be discussed with policymakers. Stephen Jones, the Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Financial Services, the Australian Securities and Investment Commission, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the Australian Bankers’ Association, major banks, and other interested parties have been invited to join the dialogue.
Additionally, the body also intends to launch an education program for consumers on crypto and its benefits. That will likely touch upon bases including how to identify scams, how to recognize good actors in the industry and seek acknowledgment of those practices by the banks.