The Senate Select Committee on Australia as a Technology and Financial Centre heard about the de-banking experienced by many small Australian owned cryptocurrency and digital asset businesses.
The third and final public hearing, chaired by Senator Andrew Bragg, covered a broad spectrum of topics including replacements for the offshore banking unit, payment platforms, cryptocurrency and FinTech.
“Today was another productive day. The witnesses provided us with a great insight into the problems innovative Australians are facing and gave us ideas about how we can solve them,” said Senator Bragg.
For example, the Senate heard from Ms Michaela Juric from “Bitcoin Babe”, a company established in 2014. Ms Juric explained she had been de-banked a staggering 91 times.
“There has been instances were debanking prevented me from being able to get utilities or phone and internet services… I’ve had family members who have be debanked as well, and that’s not because they’ve had anything to do with bitcoin, it’s just a matter of guilt by association, whether it be the same last name or same address,” said Ms Juric.
Further, Mr Michael Minassian from Nium believed the debanking he experienced was a result of anti-competitive behaviour and a lack of regulatory framework.
“The reasons given by the banks are opaque and are very, very vague about why they are ceasing their services to you.” Senator Bragg said he wanted the Committee to resolve these issues with market solutions.
“We do not tell banks who to bank in Australia, but it’s not a blank cheque for banks to stifle Australian innovation.” The Committee also considered core cryptocurrency issues.
“We heard in session that Afterpay is considering adding crypto to its platform and today El Salvador made Bitcoin its legal tender. These two examples show the pace and permanence of change.
“Australia is developing a plan for cryptocurrency leadership because we want the innovation and the jobs.”
The Committee will now consider its final recommendations. The Senate Committee will present its final report on or before 30 October 2021
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