While some financial institutions are starting (slowly) to wrap their heads around crypto and see how they can profit from it, others just won’t let go off the privilege they’ve inherited from the times when money was considered a banks’ monopoly.
Down Under, it seems, the banks are still in denial, and they use the power they have (as yet) to impede the crypto industry and its actors.
Today the Australian Senate Committee heard the testimonies of Bitcoin Babe and Aus Merchant – two local exchanges that have been continually denied banking services.
The reasons for debanking were as opaque as the bureaucratic language could allow, with “customer activity is not in accordance with known business activities” or “lack or low level of regulation within the industry”, despite the fact that the exchanges were duly registered within Austrac – the country’s financial watchdog. They weren’t given an opportunity to provide enhanced due diligence procedures neither… in the end the banks have clearly stated that it was their right to deny any customer they want.
In case of Bitcoin Babe, a small business run by a 28-year-old Michaela Juric, the situation has turned from difficult to hurtful. She and her business were denied banking services 91 (!) times, including by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia where she had held an account since she was 5 year old. The banks went as far as go as to report her as a terrorist, which affected the people she’s related to – they were debanked as well.
This is clearly bullying, and we hope that the regulators will do the necessary to stop it, so that Australia doesn’t definitely miss the crypto train. In the meantime… isn’t it infuriating that private companies which are banks have so much power over people’s livelihoods, perversely using AML as a tool for almost personal revenge?
#notyourkeysnotyourmoney is as pertinent as ever.