Australian banks reject dealing with cryptocurrency firms

Two of Australia’s largest lenders, National Australia Bank (NAB) and Westpac, on Thursday rejected criticism that they are stymieing competition by refusing to do business with cryptocurrency providers.

Many of Australia’s top financial institutions have not engaged with the sector, despite its huge growth in the past year, due to its high risks.

The stock exchange ASX Ltd, similarly has not allowed cryptocurrency-related listings, forcing some firms to seek public listings overseas, including on the Nasdaq.

Peter King, the chief executive of Westpac, the country’s second-largest lender, said the anonymity of cryptocurrency made it “very hard” to meet the bank’s anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing requirements.

Local digital currency exchanges Bitcoin Babe Pty Ltd and Aus Merchant Pty Ltd on Wednesday told a parliamentary committee exploring how to regulate the sector that none of the Big Four banks would do business with them.

Singapore-based payments and remittances firm Nium on Wednesday also said that Australia had been the only country where it had been “de-banked”, out of 40 where it operates.

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