Australia’s CBA Delays Crypto App Launch; Seeks More Regulatory Clarity

Commonwealth Bank (CBA), the first bank in Australia to announce crypto-services, has reportedly halted its decision to launch the app during the ongoing market meltdown, according to The Guardian.

The decision comes during a volatile market and the simultaneous debut of Australia’s first crypto ETFs, which received a lukewarm response. However, the report did not provide any indication on a new timeline.

CBA was facing regulatory hurdles since the announcement

CBA had announced the 2022 pilot launch of cryptocurrency trading through its banking app back in November 2021. The lender had partnered with crypto-exchange Gemini and blockchain analysis firm Chainalysis to expand crypto offerings through this year.

However, in a recent tech briefing, CBA CEO Matt Comyn noted that the lender is waiting for customer feedback and regulatory clarity before moving forward with the launch, the report underlined.

“As events of the last week have reinforced, it is clearly a very volatile sector that remains an enormous amount of interest. But alongside that volatility and awareness and I guess the scale, certainly globally, you can see there is a lot of interest from regulators and people thinking about the best way to regulate that,” he remarked.

In an earlier report, Be[In]Crypto reported that Commonwealth Bank of Australia was facing delays to extend new crypto offerings to its retail investors.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) had also reportedly obstructed CBA’s banking app pilot, which included crypto assets, due to “product disclosure statement, the target market for the product and consumer protection”.

“Our intention still, at this stage is to restart the pilot, but there is still a couple of things that we want to work through on a regulatory front to make sure that that is most appropriate,” Comyn added.

Elections and the regulatory overhaul

Australia had recently proposed regulations to cover cryptocurrency taxes, investor protection from criminals, and ways to regulate digital banks, cryptocurrency exchanges, and brokers.

The Treasury had also recently released a Consultation Paper to take public feedback until May 27, outlining licensing and custody requirements in the domestic crypto sector.

Another major regulatory overhaul that the country is set to witness will come with the upcoming elections scheduled for May 21, given that Australia currently has an 18.4% share of people who own virtual assets.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s conservative coalition is set to compete with Opposition Labor Party leader Anthony Albanese on the crypto agenda, among other issues.

With a major chunk of potential votes, Liberal Party’s Jane Hume and Andrew Bragg have supported the development of the Australian crypto sector. Meanwhile, the former has even gone on to state that if the opposition Labour Party comes into power, Australia might lose out on the crypto-led economic growth.

Comyn is hopeful that the new government will be focused on regulating the crypto sector.

“We want to continue to play a leading role in providing input into that and shaping the most appropriate regulatory outcome,” he said.

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