Australia’s Largest Bank to Allow its 6.5 Million Users to Buy, Sell, & Hold 10 Cryptocurrencies via its App

BTC, ETH, LINK, UNI, COMP, AAVE, MATIC, and other cryptos are allowed for now, with CBA planning to offer shopping with crypto next year.

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) is the latest banking giant planning to integrate cryptocurrency into its CommBank app, allowing nearly 6.5 million customers to hold and use cryptocurrencies.

Currently, the pilot is only available “for CommBank staff members” with plans to “expand to a small number of pre-selected customers in the coming months,” said the bank on Twitter.

Australia’s biggest lender is partnering with New York-based exchange Gemini to offer crypto exchange and custodial service through a new feature in its mobile banking app. It would also work with the blockchain data platform Chainalysis for compliance efforts.

“We believe we can play an important role in crypto to address what's clearly a growing customer need,” Commonwealth Bank Chief Executive Matt Comyn said in a statement.

Joining In

CBA, along with its “Big Four” peers, National Australia Bank (NAB), Westpac Banking Corp, and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd, dominate the country’s banking sector, but it is the first one in Australia to start offering crypto services.

In September, the group faced criticism for refusing to do business with crypto providers.

“I am pleased the tide is turning as digital assets are mainstreamed,” said Liberal party Senator Andrew Bragg, who led an inquiry into the sector.

“For too long, banks have cast aside cryptocurrency as an illegitimate fringe pursuit.”

During hearings of the Senate committee, CBA said the blockchain technology that underpins bitcoin “will have a far-reaching impact for financial services” and recognizes that the fintech sector is growing rapidly.

“As the sector grows, there is both local and global interest in better understanding the growing risk of [money laundering/terrorism financing], particularly in relation to crypto-assets.”

More Features Coming

CBA said the growing demand from its clients drove this move to crypto and because local crypto services are being offered by fintechs like Paypal, Revolut, and Square.

“Nothing that I know, particularly from a bank of this size, enables retail clients to directly buy crypto through their platform, to the best of my knowledge. So it's really exciting,” said Caroline Bowler, CEO of Australian crypto exchange BTC Markets.

CBA can’t afford to be left behind in the race to build “super apps” attractive to younger customers as an estimated 600,000 taxpayers have invested in crypto assets in recent years, according to the Australian Tax Office.

The bank will offer the ability to buy, sell, and hold selected ten cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), Chainlink (LINK), Uniswap (UNI), Compound (COMP), Aave, Polygon (MATIC), Filecoin (FIL) Bitcoin Cash (BCH), and Litecoin (LTC), as part of the pilot this year. The bank said that more features would be rolled out next year with plans to explore crypto payments and options.

“We remain committed to reimagining banking and will continue to bring more functionality into the CommBank app including investing and shopping.”

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