Commonwealth Bank’s Crypto App Delayed Due to Regulatory Hurdles

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s (CBA) plan to offer 10 popular cryptocurrencies to customers through its banking app has been delayed due to regulatory issues as the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) ensures the offering complies with its new design and distribution rules.

CBA announced its intention to start selling crypto direct to retail customers in November 2021, marking the first offering of this kind by any Australian bank.

First Foray May Help Clarify Regulatory Approach

The main regulatory sticking points for ASIC relate to the product disclosure statement for the crypto products, the intended target market, and ensuring consumer protections. 

Speaking at this week’s Australian Financial Review Cryptocurrency Summit, ASIC commissioner Cathie Armour suggested CBA was having trouble ensuring its crypto products complied with the requirements of ASIC’s design and distribution rules:


We’re interested in any sort of new innovation where we think there [are] real benefits of innovation being within our regulatory regime. There are a bunch of rules there that you need to follow.

Cathie Armour, ASIC commissioner 

The delays CBA is facing now may clarify the regulatory landscape moving forward and encourage other banks and traditional financial organisations to start offering crypto products.

Partnership Means Investor Funds Held Offshore

To help create its crypto offerings, the CBA has partnered with US-based cryptocurrency exchange Gemini. Under the partnership, Gemini provides custody services, which means investor funds are held offshore under the jurisdiction of the New York State Department of Financial Services. 

Pro-crypto NSW Senator Andrew Bragg has described this arrangement as “not ideal”, suggesting he’d eventually like to see Australian-based custodial services: “I think there’ll be some moral pressure on organisations in Australian businesses.”

Despite the regulatory issues it has faced, CBA has said the initial pilot of its in-app crypto offering was highly successful and that it intends to invest heavily in more crypto-related services in the future.

Jody McDonald

Jody McDonald

Jody is a Brisbane-based freelance writer who specialises in writing about business, technology, and the future of work.

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