Three of Australia’s ‘big four’ banks have issued comments regarding their respective policy positions with regards to their customers’ ability to purchase cryptocurrency using accounts issued by said banks. The statements come weeks after reports surfaced detailing an apparent banking embargo on the part of Australian banks targeting cryptocurrency businesses.
ANZ and Westpac Allow Customers to Purchase Cryptocurrency for Now
According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, a spokesperson representing Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) stated that the bank “does not prohibit customers buying digital or cryptocurrencies, or accepting them as a form of payment.” ANZ’s spokesperson added that the bank “monitors transactions for unusual behavior to protect against potential fraud and in line with our regulatory responsibilities.”
ANZ however, does not provide banking services to “businesses that operate as issuers, dealers or exchanges of digital or cryptocurrency,” with the spokesperson stating that “these businesses are currently unregulated and therefore not within ANZ policy”.
Westpac has indicated a permissive stance with regards to its customers’ ability to purchase virtual currencies, with a spokeswoman stating “We currently have no restrictions on credit card use to purchase cryptocurrency.” However, the representative refused to comment on whether the bank is considering introducing a prohibitive policy in future like those currently enforced by Westpac’s U.K. and U.S. based counterparts.
NAB and CBA Restrict Customer Access to Cryptocurrencies
National Bank of Australia (NAB) has taken a more cautionary tone, with a representative stating that “[the Australian Securities and Investments Commission] advises that, as most of the virtual currency exchange platforms are generally not regulated, customers may not be protected or have any legal recourse if the platform fails or is hacked.” As such, NAB stated: “To reduce the risk for our customers, and to help protect their money, some card transactions may not be processed,” adding “We take the protection of our customers’ information and accounts extremely seriously.”
The Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) declined to respond to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s request for comment, however anecdotal reports have long indicated that CBA has prevented its customers from conducting wire transfers to major cryptocurrency exchanges.