Australian Crypto and Remittance Businesses Face ‘Debanking,’ the Senate Committee Hears

In breaking news, Australian banks have been accused of engaging in “anti-competitive” behavior by denying their services to local crypto businesses

According to CoinDesk, the Senate Select Committee on “Australia as a Technology and Financial Centre”, which was held on Wednesday with two crypto exchanges, Aus Merchant and Bitcoin Babe, have testified to their repeated denial of services, usually with no explanation given by the institutions that denied them.

This comes off the bat when the founder of Bitcoin Babe, Sydney cryptocurrency entrepreneur of the peer-to-peer trading platform, coming out with claims that she’s been shunned by 91 financial institutions, put on a terrorism watchlist, and “bullied” by Austra.

Australian Crypto and Remittance Businesses Face ‘Debanking,’ the Senate Committee Hears 1
Michaela Juric, known as Bitcoin Babe, appears before the Senate’s Select committee on Australia as a Technology and Financial Centre. CREDIT: FAIRFAX MEDIA

The main purpose of the committee is to ‘review the federal policy framework around cryptocurrency and blockchain technology in the country, among broader issues within the fintech industry.’

Michael Minassian, regional head of global payments firm Nium, testified that Australia was the only country of 41 others to have denied banking for Nium’s remittance services.

Bitcoin Babe founder Michaela Juric told the committee her banking services had been terminated 91 times over the course of her small business’ seven-year history.

The committee also heard that Juric and family members had been denied personal banking services, which impacted their ability to establish basic utilities such as an internet service, water, and electricity, as well as self-managed retirement funds and insurance.

Juric said that:

“little to no reason had been given for the “debunking” and that banks were being “anti-competitive” because they “didn’t like that there was this competition coming through that bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies posed.”

In her submission to the committee, Juric stated that there was “no opportunity for discussion” over her loss of services from some of the country’s largest banks including Commonwealth (CBA), Westpac, and Bank of Queensland.

Australian Crypto and Remittance Businesses Face ‘Debanking,’ the Senate Committee Hears 2
CBA Bank Australia HQ

According to Juric’s submission to the committee, losing services from CBA was “particularly hurtful”.

Juric added that she was also personally ‘debanked’ from all CBA accounts, which included an account Juric had held since five years old. Additionally, she is no longer able to access any bank account records or open an account with CBA.

Aus Merchant’s managing director, Mitchell Travers, stipulated documentation to the committee exhibiting that he’d lost banking services on four different occasions.

 

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Source: AUS Merchants

Travers had the following to say:

“As far as I am aware, it was a risk-avoidance, risk-off attitude. The reasoning was that we were outside the scope of services for these banks and we weren’t given an opportunity to provide enhanced due diligence procedures.”

Sen. Andrew Bragg then questioned Travers and asked him if ‘he thought the banks considered his company’s registration by the country’s financial watchdog Austrac to be worthless.’

Australian Crypto and Remittance Businesses Face ‘Debanking,’ the Senate Committee Hears 4
Sen. Andrew Bragg

“Yes, that’s correct,” answered Travers. Juric added that her Austrac registration was never brought up by the banks.

More to come.