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Australian Banks Disagree Over Crypto Services for Customers

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  • Australian bank execs say that customers don’t understand basic financial well-being.
  • “Crypto services not in the foreseeable future and not for retail,” says one officer.
  • However, another says that they are still intent on launching crypto services despite challenges.

Two executives of Australia’s big four banks have ruled out permitting retail customers to trade cryptocurrency on their platforms, because, according to them, most customers have no financial literacy.

The declaration came from Maile Carnegie and Angela Mentis during the Australian Financial Review Banking Summit on Tuesday, May 31, 2020.

Maile Carnegie, an executive for retail banking at Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ), said she believed the vast majority of customers lack the understanding of basic financial well-being concepts.

Are we really going to make it easier and less friction and implicitly endorse speculating on crypto when they don’t understand basic financial well-being? The answer was no.

Angela Mentis, a chief digital officer of National Australia Bank (NAB), when asked if NAB would consider offering crypto services replied, “Not in the foreseeable future and not for retail”.

She, however, admitted that there are already applications for blockchain technology for institutional clients.

Of the big four banks of Australia, only the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) plans to launch a retail crypto trading product. At the summit, Matt Comyn, its CEO, said that despite the challenges they had encountered, they were still intent on launching the cryptocurrency services.

In November 2021, the CBA revealed plans to allow its customers to buy and sell cryptocurrency through its app, in partnership with the Gemini cryptocurrency exchange. But in April 2022, Australian Securities and Investment Commission tied up the launch with regulatory red tape. They cited concerns about consumer protections, which made the CBA plan a second phase launch of the product.

On May 19, 2022, the CBA suspended its plans for in-app cryptocurrency trading after market turmoil. Comyn, however, said that the bank would look to restrict trading to those “who understand the risky asset class.”

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