Australia’s leading banks National Australia Bank (NAB) and Westpac are rejecting accusations of discrimination against the country’s crypto sector, responding to allegations made by industry representatives during their testimonies before the Australian Senate.
“It’s one of the emerging issues that we are looking at – what should our relationship be, if at all, with cryptocurrency,” Ross McEwan, CEO of NAB, told a regular parliamentary hearing, as reported by Reuters.
McEwan claims the bank does not have a policy of debanking crypto-related customers, but did not service such customers and would only engage in such cooperation unless it was profitable and tolerable to the bank in terms of risk.
“We have to look at where does cryptocurrency go, along with … the reserve bank and regulators. And what’s the risk inside the bank of dealing with cryptocurrency providers as well,” he told lawmakers.
Meanwhile, Peter King, CEO of Westpac, said cryptocurrency’s anonymity made it “very hard” for the bank to comply with anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing regulations.
The latest statements come in response to the testimonies of Sydney-based crypto entrepreneur Michaela Juric, Founder of peer-to-peer trading platform Bitcoin Babe, and Rebecca Schot-Guppy, CEO of local industry association Fintech Australia. Juric told senators she has been shunned by 91 financial institutions, included on a terrorism watchlist, as well as “bullied” by the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre due to her crypto-related business activities.
Also taking part in the Australia as a Technology and Financial Centre inquiry, Schot-Guppy testified she was aware of numerous similar incidents in which members of her organization were targeted by Australian banks. She also called on the committee to put an end to similar malpractices which she described as “anti-competitive”.
Michael Minassian, Vice President and Regional Head of Consumer Business for Australia and Oceania at Singapore-based payments and remittances firm Nium, disclosed that Australia was the only country where the company had been “de-banked” out of the 40 states where it runs its business.