National Australia Bank (NAB) and Westpac, two of the largest lenders in Australia, said on Thursday that they are not hindering competitors by refusing to do business with cryptocurrency providers. NAB CEO Ross McEwan said,
“It’s one of the emerging issues that we are looking at – what should our relationship be, if at all, with cryptocurrency.”
Local crypto exchanges Aus Merchant Pty Ltd and Bitcoin Babe Pty Ltd told a parliamentary committee exploring how to regulate the sector that none of the ‘Big Four’ banks would do business with them.
It makes sense that these banks don’t want to do business with the crypto industry as NAB and Westpac, along with Commonwealth Bank of Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, control nearly 80% of the Australian market, and by revolutionizing finance, crypto is working on putting them out of business for good.
At a regular parliamentary hearing, NAB CEO McEwan said the bank did not have a policy excluding crypto-related customers but did not service any of them either. He further said they would only service them if it was profitable and the bank could tolerate the risks. McEwan added,
“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.”
Singapore-based payment firm Nium also said that Australia is the only country out of the 40 it operates in where it had been “de-banked.” “It’s time to cast an appropriate light on this anti-competitive practice,” said Nium APAC head of consumer Michael Minassian.
Meanwhile, the CEO of the country’s second-largest lender Westpac said at the same hearing that crypto’s anonymity made it “very hard” to meet their anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing requirements.
Largest Investment Bank Joins In
Many top institutions in Australia have not engaged with the crypto sector. Similarly, the stock exchange ASX Ltd. hasn’t allowed crypto-related listings either, which forced some firms overseas to seek public listings on the likes of Nasdaq.
Amidst this, blockchain firm Blockstream Mining partnered with Australian financial conglomerate Macquarie Group to develop bitcoin mining facilities using renewable energy. The partnership would initially include mining hardware hosting with the potential to scale in stages.
Macquarie is Australia’s largest investment bank and fund manager.
Earlier this year, the Canada-based firm partnered with Norwegian company Aker ASA and Jack Dorsey’s Square to build renewable-power bitcoin miners.