The Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s (CBA) decision to offer cryptocurrency services to customers has pushed Australia into becoming a leader in the industry, an expert said.
CBA announced on Nov. 3 that it would partner with crypto exchange and custodian service Gemini and blockchain analysis company Chainalysis to become the first Australian bank to offer customers crypto services.
BTC Markets CEO Caroline Bowler said the announcement was a proof that cryptocurrency would soon become a completely legitimate currency.
“CBA’s move is exciting and inevitable. It’s yet another ‘red-letter day’ for crypto, and it is as though Australia has suddenly put the lead foot down,” Bowler told Nine News.
“We have been touted as playing catch up all this while, but now we’re moving into a leadership position globally with our largest bank and one of the most significant mainstream financial institutions in the world offering millions of customers access to cryptocurrencies.”
CBA said its research revealed that many of its customers wanted access to crypto assets as an investment class, as many are already trading and holding the currencies.
“The emergence and growing demand for digital currencies from customers creates both challenges and opportunities for the financial services sector, which has seen a significant number of new players and business models innovating in this area,” CBA CEO Matt Comyn said.
“We believe we can play an important role in crypto to address what’s clearly a growing customer need and provide capability, security and confidence in a crypto trading platform.”
Up to 10 cryptocurrency assets will be available for trading and holding, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin.
The bank said a pilot would start in the coming weeks, with more features to open up to customers in 2022.
Analysis in May by the Australian Taxation Office found that over 600,000 taxpayers have invested in crypto assets in recent years.
A Senate Committee on Australia as a Technology and Financial Centre said in its final report in October (pdf) that 17 percent of Australians currently own cryptocurrency and a further 13 percent planned to buy cryptocurrency in the next 12 months, according to survey data.
“This makes Australia one of the world’s most significant adopters of cryptocurrencies on a per capita basis,” the report said, emphasising that the economic opportunity in the country was enormous.