Australian Payment Provider Cuscal Imposes New Restrictions on Crypto; Industry Body Criticizes Move

"Australians ... expect to be able to spend their money and use their assets as they choose, without undue restrictions," a Blockchain Australia official said.

AccessTimeIconJun 20, 2023 at 1:13 p.m. UTC
Updated Jun 21, 2023 at 5:58 a.m. UTC

Payments provider Cuscal, through its partner Zepto, has brought new banking restrictions on cryptocurrency exchanges in Australia, according to a statement criticizing the move from Blockchain Australia, the nation's industry body.

Last month, Cuscal cut off payment services to Binance Australia. At the time, Binance Australia said that it will no longer be able to facilitate Australian Dollar bank transfers using PayID, blaming Cuscal without naming it. Australia's blockchain industry had denounced recent restrictions by local banks on crypto payments and invited platforms like Cuscal and government stakeholders to a roundtable discussion on June 27 to discuss the issue.

CoinDesk has viewed the "restrictions" in a document titled "Zepto Compliance Survey for Digital Currency Exchanges (DCE)."

"Our banking partner, Cuscal has updated its Merchant guidelines which contain new requirements for all digital currency exchanges that are supported by Cuscal," the "survey" reads. "If you do not currently comply with the new requirements, we are happy to consider a reasonable time frame for implementation. Please note, if you are unable to comply with the requirements, Zepto and Cuscal will not be able to continue to support you."

Zepto's "survey" said the requirements were to put in place appropriate controls for the users of services from fraud and required the response from the exchanges by June 21.

Some of the requirements are a 24-hour hold on first-time inbound payments of any size, real-time verification of user identity and unspecified transaction limits on cryptocurrency exchange payments, according to the Blockchain Australia statement.

"The new requirements appear to only be targeted to digital currency exchanges," the statement read. "Blockchain Australia supports efforts to enhance and promote secure digital transactions while still preserving users’ freedom to decide how to spend their own money and use their own assets."

It isn't clear how many Australian exchanges Cuscal and Zepto provide payment services to since the data is not public, but Australia has about 400 crypto exchanges registered for anti-money-laundering and counter-terrorism financing obligations.

"The move will have a major impact in Australia," said Blockchain Australia Chair and Digital Assets Lawyer Michael Bacina. “In a time of growing economic uncertainty, scams and fraud across the economy are expected to increase. Australians rightly expect businesses they deal with to pitch in to help tackle this problem, but they also expect to be able to spend their money and use their assets as they choose, without undue restrictions."

Cuscal did not immediately respond to CoinDesk's request for comment.

"We're not in a position to comment on whether or not any of our customers may be impacted if they are unable to meet the new requirements," said a spokesperson from Zepto. "We have taken these steps to support the new requirements of Zepto's banking partner, and our DCE customers as they adapt to these new requirements."

UPDATE (June 21, 06:00 UTC): Adds comment from Zepto in last paragraph.

Edited by Nelson Wang.


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Amitoj Singh

Amitoj Singh is a CoinDesk reporter.