The chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Rodd Sims confirmed the investigation of the country’s biggest banks for shutting down the accounts of Bitcoin traders.
“It appears to me to be an amazing coincidence that a number of large banks have all of a sudden decided to deny services to fledgling Bitcoin and digital currency operators.,” said Queensland Nationals Senator Matthew Canavan, who initiated the investigation and was part of a recent Senate Committee looking at Bitcoin and other digital currencies.
“They are clearly competitors to their business model, albeit small ones at this stage, and there are clear laws that we’ve got against businesses refusing to supply other businesses if they do so for an anti-competitive purpose,” he added.
Mr Canavan explained that he called for the investigation because he believed there had been a coordinated attack on the digital currency industry:
“I think the ACCC should be asking the banks some serious questions about why they’ve done this and on what legal grounds they believe that they should not be providing services to Bitcoin operators.”
According to the ABC News, several Bitcoin traders admitted they were being systematically discriminated against by financial institutions, including The Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, ANZ and the National Australia Bank.
“I’ve been blacklisted from Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank, Westpac, St George, Bank of Melbourne, Bank SA, Bank of Queensland, Rams and BT Superfund. I can’t open or hold any accounts with those institutions because I deal with Bitcoin,” said Michaela Juric, who had been trading Bitcoin for two and a half years.
Daniel Wilczynski, a former Bitcoin trader, is now out of business after having his personal and business accounts closed by six different banks:
“Everything was going well, but my first bank closure was by NAB and then I had ANZ close, and then Westpac and then about two months ago the Commonwealth Bank closed my bank accounts. I was thinking of hiring somebody, I could have had an extra developer working with me right now, and instead I’m out of a job and out of income trying to figure out what to do.”
As said by Adam Poulton, the president of the Bitcoin Association of Australia, the CEO of the Australian Bankers’ Association (ABA), Tony Pearson, told him that the banks were looking at ways to work with Bitcoin traders:
“It’s the first time that the association has actually talked to us and is investigating our concerns and seeing if there is some way we can do business.”
However, Mr Canavan was skeptical about the timing of the ABA’s indication that it is more receptive to Bitcoin traders concerns:
“It’s an amazing coincidence that all the banks have decided to foreclose their business to digital currencies at one point, and it also seems to be an amazing coincidence that just as this has gone public the Australian Bankers Association have responded.”