Commonwealth Bank will become Australia’s first bank to offer customers the ability to buy, sell and hold cryptocurrency assets such as Bitcoin.CBA announced today that it has partnered with one of the world’s largest regulated cryptocurrency exchanges, Gemini, to allow customers to trade in digital currencies via the CommBank app. The new feature will run as a pilot in the coming weeks, and pending a successful trial period will be available to more customers in 2022. CBA’s Commbank app is the largest banking application in the country with more than 6.5 million users. Commbank app users will have the ability to trade up to ten selected cryptocurrency assets including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash and Litecoin.
CBA CEO Matt Comyn said the adoption of cryptocurrency by the major bank was a direct result of discovering a large number of customers wanted an easy and accessible way to trade in crypto.”The emergence and growing demand for digital currencies from customers creates both challenges and opportunities for the financial services sector, which has seen a significant number of new players and business models innovating in this area,” Mr Comyn said.
“We believe we can play an important role in crypto to address what’s clearly a growing customer need and provide capability, security and confidence in a crypto trading platform.”The bank’s partnership with Gemini has been assisted with a second partnership with blockchain analysis firm Chainalysis, which has allowed the bank to design an exchange they say is secure and safe.
“Customers have expressed concern regarding some of the crypto services in market today, including the friction of using third party exchanges, the risk of fraud, and the lack of trust in some new providers. This is why we see this as an opportunity to bring a trusted and secure experience for our customers,” Mr Comyn said.”We remain committed to reimagining banking and will continue to bring more functionality into the CommBank app including investing and shopping.”The bank has not released details around what fees will charged on cryptocurrency trades, a major factor that investors use to differentiate between exchange platforms online.
Caroline Bowler, CEO of now-competitor BTC Markets, said today’s announcement was proof that total legitimisation of cryptocurrency is on the horizon.”CBA’s move is exciting and inevitable. It’s yet another ‘red letter day’ for crypto and it is as though Australia has suddenly put the lead foot down,” Ms Bowler said.”We have been touted as playing catch up all this while, but now we’re moving into a leadership position globally with our largest bank, and one of the most significant mainstream financial institutions in the world offering millions of customers access to cryptocurrencies.”I had previously earmarked in media that just because banks and bankers aren’t yet public with their engagement with cryptocurrency doesn’t mean they aren’t looking. The same goes for institutional and pension fund managers.”