Australia’s Competition Watchdog to Investigate the Country’s Biggest Banks for Possible Unlawful Practices Against Bitcoin Companies
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has confirmed it will launch a formal investigation on the country’s biggest banks for abruptly closing accounts of bitcoin companies and traders, reported the ABC.
Queensland Nationals Senator Matthew Canavan, who sent a letter to the chairman of the ACC to warn the authority about these practices, said he believes there had been a coordinated attack on the digital currency industry.
“It appears to me to be an amazing coincidence that a number of large banks have all of a sudden decided to deny services to fledgling Bitcoin and digital currency operators,” Canavan said.
“They are clearly competitors to their business model, albeit small ones at this stage, and there are clear laws that we’ve got against businesses refusing to supply other businesses if they do so for an anti-competitive purpose.
“I think the ACCC should be asking the banks some serious questions about why they’ve done this and on what legal grounds they believe that they should not be providing services to Bitcoin operators.”
Labor Senator Sam Dastyari said he backs the call for investigation on the banks, adding that Australia’s financial institutions were abusing the protection granted by the Government by refusing to provide banking services to bitcoin traders and operators.
“You have an APRA arrangement that affectively means they’re too big to fail. You have up to $750 billion worth of their deposits being guaranteed – all of this provided by the Australian people as an implicit subsidy, that implicit subsidy doesn’t exist so that they can behave in a way that stifles and stops growing industries in this country.”
The ACCC’s investigation comes shortly after several bitcoin traders in Australia said they have been systematically discriminated against by some of Australia’s largest banks, including the Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, ANZ and the National Australia Bank.
Michaela Juric, a bitcoin trader also known as the “Bitcoin Babe,” told the ABC:
“I’ve been blacklisted from Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank, Westpac, St George, Bank of Melbourne, Bank SA, Bank of Queensland, Rams and BT Superfund. I can’t open or hold any accounts with those institutions because I deal with bitcoin.”
Another bitcoin trader, Daniel Wilczynski, said he is now out of business as both his personal and business accounts had been closed. He said:
“Everything was going well, but my first bank closure was by NAB and then I had ANZ close, and then Westpac and then about two months ago the Commonwealth Bank closed my bank accounts.”
According to the Australian Financial Review, at least 17 Australian bitcoin companies, including Bit Trade and Buyabitcoin, have received letters from major banks such as Westpac and Commonwealth Bank, informing them their accounts will be closed without further explanation.
Ron Tucker, chairman of The Australian Digital Currency Commerce Association, said that banks refused to explain why these accounts were being closed or even discuss what could be done to resolve the issue.