Australia's Crypto Industry Body Denounces Recent Banking Restrictions

Blockchain Australia said it wants to tackle the issue "head-on by using real data," following reports that banks in the country were blocking payments to crypto exchanges.

AccessTimeIconJun 14, 2023 at 10:20 a.m. UTC

Blockchain industry stakeholders in Australia are taking a stand against recent restrictions by local banks on crypto payments.

Industry body, Blockchain Australia, called out restrictions and said it wants to tackle the issue "head-on by using real data," in a Wednesday announcement.

Recently, Australia has seen a string of instances in which banking partners have blocked payments to cryptocurrency exchanges. Last week, Commonwealth Bank (CBA) applied partial restrictions citing "scams and the amount of money lost by customers." And earlier this month, Binance Australia halted Australian dollar (AUD) deposits and withdrawals by bank transfer "due to a decision made" by a third-party payment service provider.

“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," said Jackson Zeng, director of Blockchain Australia. "Every individual has the inherent right ... to make decisions on how and where to use their finances ... The principal role of banks is to facilitate these decisions, not to impose restrictions upon them.”

The industry body has decided to host a roundtable discussion on June 27, during Blockchain Week in Australia, to discuss the issue with policymakers, potentially including Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Financial Services Stephen Jones and the Australian Securities and Investment Commission.

"Blockchain Australia considers that blanket restrictions have very costly side effects, not only limiting consumer’s use of their own money, but also shifting the behavior of those at risk of scams or fraud into another type of scam or fraud which may be harder to detect," the announcement said.

The body plans to start an education program for consumers on crypto and its benefits – including how to identify scams and recognize good actors in the space – and seek acknowledgement of those practices by the banks.

Getting "banks to provide opt-in protection and education to users, or provide targeted approaches to specific categories of at-risk customers with appropriate education and notification," may be a "more effective" solution to reducing crypto-related scams without payment restrictions, the announcement added.

Edited by Sandali Handagama.


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Amitoj Singh

Amitoj Singh is a CoinDesk reporter.