ANZ wants greater visibility of crypto exchange licences

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ANZ wants greater visibility of crypto exchange licences

Before offering banking services.

ANZ Banking Group is finding it difficult to see cryptocurrency safely fitting into its banking system, but is open to working with regulators to better understand the risk.

Speaking at a standing committee on economics on Thursday, CEO Shayne Elliott said the big four bank currently lacks the framework to safely trade in the cryptocurrency space. 

“For now, we struggle to understand how we can service that area, particularly around crypto exchanges, and do so [while maintaining] compliance with our own obligations with respect to money laundering, sanctions, anti-terrorism, financing, etc,” he said.

“That's not to say that that's a forever policy but right now, that's difficult.”

Elliot said that, at present, a crypto business may apply for a licence from anti-money laundering agency AUSTRAC, but there was “no way of knowing or getting access to [that information]” for the bank.

“So it's quite a difficult area,” he said, adding that ANZ will keep in place its “policy of not providing banking to the crypto exchange world in particular”.  

“But as I said, it's not a forever policy. It'll depend on how things emerge in that space and how we can do so safely.”

The bank has already reported a year-on-year increase in investment scams of around 53 percent with “a high proportion of these involve cryptocurrency”.

Elliott said continued work with AUSTRAC would be needed for ANZ to comfortably rethink its current policy.

“We have to know what happens to payments and where the money goes and what it's for," he said.

“The very nature of cryptocurrency makes that very difficult to meet those obligations, so we have to work with people like AUSTRAC to understand how we could facilitate that.”

CBA chief executive Matt Comyn echoed similar sentiments at the same committee on Thursday stating the bank is “in regular dialogue with AUSTRAC on this particular topic.”

Elliott added that ANZ already enables “billions of dollars” in transitions across a variety of financial organisations “every single day”.

“So, it's not area were we have a philosophical issue with. We have an issue about just making sure we can operate in the space safely,” he said

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