The Australian Senate Committee has heard several cases of financial institutions withholding or discontinuing banking services to local cryptocurrency and remittance businesses.
In the Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Australia as a Technology and Financial Center on Wednesday, two crypto exchanges, Aus Merchant and Bitcoin Babe testified to their repeated denials of services, often without any explanation from the institutions that refused them. …
The purpose of the committee is to review the federal policy framework for cryptocurrency and blockchain technology in the country, among broader financial technology issues.
Michael Minasyan, regional head of international payments company Nium, said Australia was the only country out of 41 countries to refuse banking services for Nium money transfers.
Bitcoin Babe founder Mikaela Juric told the committee that her banking service has been terminated 91 times in her small business’s seven-year history.
The committee also heard that Juric and his family were denied personal banking services, which affected their ability to install basic utilities such as internet, water, and electricity, as well as self-administered pension funds and insurance.
Juric said there was little to no explanation of the reasons for her de-banking and that banks were taking an “anti-competitive” stance due to the perceived threat that cryptocurrency poses to traditional finance.
“They didn’t like that this competition is going through this bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.”
In her address to the committee, Yurich said there was “no room for discussion” that she was robbed of bankruptcy by some of the country’s largest banks, including Commonwealth (CBA), Westpac, and Bank of Queensland.
The debunking from the CBA was “especially painful” for Yurich, she said in a statement to the committee. Juric said she was also personally withdrawn from all CBA accounts, including the account that Juric had owned since the age of five. Jurich claims she can no longer access bank account records or open an account with the CBA.
Aus Merchant Managing Director Mitchell Travers presented evidence to the committee claiming he was debanked four times.
“As far as I know, it was a risk-averse, risk-averse attitude,” Travers said. “The reason was that we were not part of the service for these banks and we were not given the opportunity to provide extended due diligence procedures.”
Senator Andrew Bragg asked Travers if registering his company with Austrac was useless in the eyes of the bank.
“Yes, that’s right,” Travers said. Juric also said that her Austrac registration was never called out by the banks.
On the final day of #crypto hearings we commenced with @ausfintech – they set out a plan for tax reform of capital gains tax on digital assets & detailed options to address de-banking which the Committee will consider carefully.
– Senator Andrew Bragg (@ajamesbragg) September 8, 2021
Bragg said the banks told him that the reason for debating cryptocurrency businesses was due to the “lack or low level of regulation” in the industry, and asked if tightening regulation of cryptocurrency markets would remove the banks’ arguments.
“Of course it is possible,” said Juric, who also emphasized that large banks can strengthen their positions and threaten small cryptocurrency enterprises, as well as disrupt the entire industry.
Travers agreed: “Strengthening storage regulation is very important … on the licensing side, we have to be very careful because the nature of the technology tends to evolve every year, if not every month.”