Crypto Traders’ ‘Sinister’ Debanking Is Often Anticompetitive, Says Senator Bragg


Australian banks disguised anti-competitive behavior as regulatory compliance when removing the bank from crypto clients, Senator Andrew Bragg said.

“I think many banks have made de-banking a regulatory necessity. In fact, it is often anti-competitive behavior and much more sinister and threatening than it appears at first glance, ”the Liberal Senator from New South Wales said in a prepared speech to the Tech Council of Australia tod.

Bank refusal, or debanking, occurs when a financial institution chooses to no longer offer banking services to a customer. No reason needs to be given, and banks have the option of freezing an account instantly or closing it with very little notice. For crypto clients, banks often cite concerns about anti-money laundering (AML) and anti-terrorist financing (CTF) compliance.

Senator Bragg told Cointelegraph his Senate committee heard testimony that banks closed accounts for “business reasons” – a practice “long known and reported by ACCC [Australian Competition & Consumer Commission]”.

“In other words, they took their banks away from their customers to protect their established market position. This is not good enough. “

Testifying to the Senate inquiry into “Australia as a technology and financial center” in September this year, “Bitcoin Babe” founder Michaela Juric said she was banned by a total of 91 banks and financial institutions during his seven years. history in crypto.

“No reason given, no assessment or case-by-case discussion initiated and no remedy available,” she said at the time.

Another Australian digital currency trader, Allan Flynn, secured a settlement with ANZ for taking him out of the bank on October 15. While ANZ denied any responsibility, the bank offered them the option of requesting a bank account again. Flynn also has a similar case against Westpac which is pending.

In today’s speech to the Tech Council, Senator Bragg condemned the practice of debanking, saying it “undermines Australia as a crypto hub.”

“How can you be a hub if you can’t get a bank account as a trader, miner, exchange, custodian, or investor? You can not.

Things are changing though. On November 3, the Commonwealth Bank announced that it would become the first Australian bank to offer customers the ability to buy, sell and hold crypto assets through its CommBank app. According to Bragg, it will be difficult for banks to reconcile an anti-crypto stance as they begin to enter the crypto world themselves.

“The position that banks have historically taken will be difficult to maintain with the recent entry of banks into the crypto world. I will make sure this is not an opportunity for banks to be hypocritical,” he said. he said in today’s speech.

He added to that statement, telling Cointelegraph: “I think it would be hypocritical to allow and encourage customers to use crypto in the app and then take other customers’ bank out to have them. do the same. I am happy to see the banks getting into cryptocurrency ”.

The Senate Committee’s “Crypto Report” released on October 20 made 12 recommendations to address key issues in the cryptocurrency industry, including that the Australian government develop a “clear process for businesses that have been de-banked.”

Related: Australian crypto companies keen to adopt regulation, says senator

Following the publication of the report, the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Center (AUSTRAC) issued a statement on October 29 that strongly criticized the bank’s removal:

“The effect of removing the bank from legitimate and lawful financial services companies may increase the risks of money laundering and terrorist financing and negatively impact the Australian economy,” the report said.

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