ANZ Banking Chief on Crypto: ‘There is a Weight of Money You Can’t Ignore’

November 06, 2021, 9:45 AM AEST - 3 weeks ago

Between 2009 and early 2020, crypto and traditional finance operated in parallel universes. Then in March 2020, everything changed. Crypto and macro became inseparable and among crypto proponents, it seemed obvious that traditional institutions such as banks would eventually capitulate. ANZ is the latest to see that crypto is here to stay.

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.

Mahatma Gandhi

Traditional Finance Getting Onboard With Crypto

Earlier this week, as reported by Crypto News Australia, Commonwealth Bank (CBA) will become the first to offer crypto trading to its customers, natively through its app. CBA plans to offer its 11 million customers access to 10 cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, Uniswap, Polygon, Filecoin, Aave and Compound. Other tokens and coins may be added in the future.

Shortly after CBA’s news, a local fintech and financial services webinar event organised by Blockchain Australia, called State of Play, sought to make sense of the current regulatory landscape and innovation in the sector:

ANZ Recognises CBA’s Move as ‘Bold’

Speaking of CBA’s recent move into the crypto space, ANZ Bank’s banking services portfolio lead Nigel Dobson described it as “bold”, suggesting this may be just the start of a major shift in the financial system and something traditional finance would need to embrace or adapt to.

There is a weight of money you simply can’t ignore … We have concluded that this is a major protocol shift for financial market infrastructure.

Nigel Dobson, ANZ banking services portfolio lead

Dobson went further, recognising the value of a decentralised system:

We are moving to a more decentralised system – arguably faster, cheaper, better (yet to be proven) – that can generate new outcomes and business models that can’t be ignored. If that’s the thesis – that these new protocols can generate better outcomes and new business models – then they can’t be ignored. We’re excited about them because they resemble, in many cases, financial markets.

Nigel Dobson, ANZ banking services portfolio lead

Ultimately, Dobson felt that much like the inevitability of the internet and changes it brought to banking, a shift to the digital asset economy was “completely going to occur”.

The preferences of our customers may lead us to places where we feel uncomfortable … but the ship has sailed … so what we need to do is to navigate our path towards utilising these [decentralised] networks. And the power of these networks is unquestionably strong. The power of networks transcends all companies – you just need to choose whether to be part of it or ignore it … I think we have a much stronger bias to participate than ignore.

Nigel Dobson, ANZ banking services portfolio lead

These sentiments from ANZ represent a remarkable change of tone given that the bank has previously been involved in debanking crypto businesses due to the perceived risk they posed. Just earlier this month, ANZ settled a case with a crypto trader after he was debanked solely on the basis of his profession.

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