NAB Observing Crypto As An ‘Emerging Issue’ After Being Accused of Refusing to Do Business with the Industry

National Australia Bank Observing Crypto As An ‘Emerging Issue’ After Being Accused of Refusing to Do Business with the Industry

Local crypto exchanges told a parliamentary committee exploring how to regulate the sector that none of the ‘Big Four’ banks, which control nearly 80% of the Australian market, would do business with them.

National Australia Bank (NAB) and Westpac, two of the largest lenders in Australia, said on Thursday that they are not hindering competitors by refusing to do business with cryptocurrency providers. NAB CEO Ross McEwan said,

“It’s one of the emerging issues that we are looking at – what should our relationship be, if at all, with cryptocurrency.”

Local crypto exchanges Aus Merchant Pty Ltd and Bitcoin Babe Pty Ltd told a parliamentary committee exploring how to regulate the sector that none of the ‘Big Four’ banks would do business with them.

It makes sense that these banks don’t want to do business with the crypto industry as NAB and Westpac, along with Commonwealth Bank of Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, control nearly 80% of the Australian market, and by revolutionizing finance, crypto is working on putting them out of business for good.

Anti-Competitive Practice

At a regular parliamentary hearing, NAB CEO McEwan said the bank did not have a policy excluding crypto-related customers but did not service any of them either. He further said they would only service them if it was profitable and the bank could tolerate the risks. McEwan added,

“We have to look at where does cryptocurrency go, along with … the reserve bank and regulators. And what’s the risk inside the bank of dealing with cryptocurrency providers as well.”

Singapore-based payment firm Nium also said that Australia is the only country out of the 40 it operates in where it had been “de-banked.” “It’s time to cast an appropriate light on this anti-competitive practice,” said Nium APAC head of consumer Michael Minassian.

Meanwhile, the CEO of the country’s second-largest lender Westpac said at the same hearing that crypto’s anonymity made it “very hard” to meet their anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing requirements.

Largest Investment Bank Joins In

Many top institutions in Australia have not engaged with the crypto sector. Similarly, the stock exchange ASX Ltd. hasn’t allowed crypto-related listings either, which forced some firms overseas to seek public listings on the likes of Nasdaq.

Amidst this, blockchain firm Blockstream Mining partnered with Australian financial conglomerate Macquarie Group to develop bitcoin mining facilities using renewable energy. The partnership would initially include mining hardware hosting with the potential to scale in stages.

Macquarie is Australia’s largest investment bank and fund manager.

Earlier this year, the Canada-based firm partnered with Norwegian company Aker ASA and Jack Dorsey’s Square to build renewable-power bitcoin miners.

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Author: AnTy

Reserve Bank of Australia And ConsenSys Partner On CBDC Research & Development

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) recently announced they have partnered with several financial institutions to research the potential of distributed ledger technology for a CBDC.

Based on the announcement, the partnering financial institutions include software firm ConsenSys, financial services company Perpetual, National Australia Bank, and the Commonwealth Bank.

The financial institutions will research the benefits of using distributed ledger technology on central bank wholesale digital currencies.

The RBA also said the partnering group would be investigating the development of a proof of concept when issuing tokenized CBDC’s.

Partnership on wholesale market participation

The collaboration will be focused on a wholesale market participant who might be utilizing the digital currency for tokenized syndicate loans via a DLT platform. They will also investigate the effect of security settlements between payments and delivery using cross-chain atomic swaps.

According to Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, Michele Bullock, the project will seek to determine the impact of CBDC on innovation, risk management, and efficiency in financial market transactions. Findings may point to how CBDCs will be handled in the future within the Australian financial market.

He also stressed the need to work with industry partners to explore the market to achieve the same goals. He pointed out,

“While the use of a CBDC is still open in these markets, we look forward to working with industry partners.”

The project will be exploring various areas to place a future role for CBDCs in the Australian financial market.

Australia making a U-turn to support CBDC

This project may signify the Australian’s financial authority to pursue more interest in CBDCs. The country’s reserve bank has set various policies that seem to be working against the growth of CBDC in the country. However, the recent partnership to get more involved in CBDC research shows the bank’s willingness to keep things open to CBDCs.

Earlier last month, RBA announced that it would continue to deploy resources towards the research on CBDC, even though the financial institution insists the country has no basis for issuing one in September.

The bank has also pointed to the success of the country’s effective real-time platform for new payments, which has been considered an alternative to issuing a CBDC.

The bank has also revealed that it is set to offer fiat banknotes access if Australians still show the same interest in using them.

The results of the research to be published next year.

The Reserve bank will publish the report next year, once the project has concluded, according to the report on the development.

The RBA also revealed that the partnership might result in other potential automation and programmable financial assets features. Bullock added that the RBA would enable the research team to carry out their exploration. The result of the research is expected to be published during the first half of next year.

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Author: Ali Raza

New Payments Platform Australia (NPPA) Sues Ripple for ‘PayID’ Trademark

An Australian financial services firm, known as New Payments Platform Australia (NPPA), has sued Ripple Labs over a trademark infringement allegation that involves the PayID brand.

The lawsuit, which was filed last week in a federal court in New South Wales, alleges that Ripple Labs infringed on Australia’s Trademarks Act of 1995 as well as the country’s consumer law for the usage of the PayID trademark brand.

NPPA is a consortium that was founded by 13 banks, consisting of the Reserve Bank of Australia, Citi, ING, ANZ, and HSBC. The firm controls a remittance network within Australia, allowing for real-time payments among customers from various banks.

NPPA states that it launched the PayID brand in February 2018 and used about AU$3.3 million for an aggressive advertising campaign to make the platform mainstream. More than 90 small and large Australian banks, including other financial institutions, have so far joined the platform.

Adrian Lovney, NPPA’s CEO, states that he found out that Ripple, in June, introduced a similar PayID branded platform in Australia in line with the giant payments Open Payments Coalition and has partnered with about 40 companies across the world.

The court paper also alleges that 3 of the 40 partners within Ripple’s OTC are located in Australia, including BTC Markets, FlashFX, and Independent Reserve.

Lovney alleges that there is evidence to suggest that the three Australian firms wrongly believed that there was a connection between the services provided by the NPPA and those offered by Ripple, as per the PayID trademark. The lawsuit explains:

“PayID is the brand, name, and trademark used by NPPA to identify both the NPP’s Addressing Service and the account proxies/aliases that form part of the Addressing Service.”

According to NPPA, about 5 million PayIDs have so far been registered, which forms a crucial part of Australia’s NPP, a platform designed and managed by NPPA.

The court has already given NPPA the greenlight to serve Ripple Labs a notice outside of Australia.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

Quench Your Thirst in Australia, New Zealand by Paying with BTC at Coca-Cola Vending Machines

dentCoca-Cola consumers in Australia and New Zealand can now acquire their soft drinks with cryptocurrency through specific vending machines. A report by The Australian Financial Review recently highlighted that a deal between Asia-Pacific Coca-Cola distributor, Amatil, and Centrapay would see over 1200 point-of-sales accept Bitcoin and ERC-20 tokens.

Centrapay, crypto payments focused startup, is set to scale Amatil’s revenue potential as the world moves to digital payments in efforts to contain COVID-19. Notably, the firm’s website shows that its customers include popular brands like Jack Daniels, KFC, and Adidas. Jerome Faury, the CEO of Centrapay, has since noted that their goal is to increase the adoption of Web 3.0 by enhancing user experience and reducing integration complexity. Faury said,

“We have solved both these issues. Centrapay is pioneering the way to enable this new internet of value and bring its benefits to both consumers and merchants.

And it comes with the added benefit of reducing physical contact and addressing the hygiene concerns we’ve all become acutely aware of due to COVID-19.”

Making Crypto Payments for Coca-Cola

According to the underlying design, crypto payments to Amatil vending machines will be facilitated by QR codes. Ideally, a simple scan of one’s QR code payment sticker should initiate the transaction process. This functionality is backed by a digital storage dubbed ‘Sylo Smart Wallet,’ which ought to be installed prior. It acts as a decentralized link between messaging services and the digital wallet.

Growth Prospects

Following this milestone, Faury noted that Centrapay is looking to further expand its horizon into North America with a focus on the U.S market. According to the CEO, the success in Australia and New Zealand set a good precedent for Centrapay to roll out its products in global markets.

Amatil, on the other hand, also stands to benefit from its partnership with Centrapay. A spokesman from the firm has said that it already uses QR codes with Alipay and WeChat. It, therefore, makes it easier to scale its range of acceptable payment methods with digital assets:

“We want to ensure customers can transact with us in their preferred currency, so accepting digital assets is the next step for us as digital assets become more popular.”

This is not Coca-Cola’s first brush with blockchain tech or cryptocurrencies. In November 2019 they made the announcement they were using SAP’s blockchain tech to become more efficient. They partnered with Blockchain Trust Accelerator back in early 2018 to fight forced labor.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

FinTech Unicorn Revolut Gains Approval for AFSL from Australian Financial Watchdog ASIC

  • UK based Fintech startup Revolut bank receives green light to operate in Australia from ASIC.
  • Offering expertise in digital financial services, they now service over 10 million clients globally. Recently rated as the most valuable startup in the UK.

Reports have now surfaced that the UK based Fintech, Revolut, has now received approval for their Australian Financial Service License (AFSL). This was after the chairman of Fintech Australia; Alan Tsen posted a tweet applauding the start-up for receiving the license that was then confirmed by Revolut’s Global Expansion Manager,

The AFS license is granted by Australian Financial Watchdog, Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). It allows people or companies carrying out financial services to operate legally within Australia. The ASIC issued them with an exemption as they commenced operations there in 2019 although the exemption expires at the beginning of June 2020.

The Fintech firm made its first move outside Europe by establishing a base in Australia. They then set up Revolut Australia which received ASIC accreditation. This local front would now be able to consolidate its presence in the Australian market. Last June, they launched their Australian Beta mode in pilot programs within Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.

Revolut offers deposits, credit cards, global remittances, and offers trading options. They have since extended support to clients who trade using Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Bitcoin Cash (BCH) and Litecoin (LTC) amongst other stock and crypto options.

It was launched by CEO and co-founder Nikolay Storonsky, a Russian British based Entrepreneur and Vlad Yatsenko who serves as CTO. Vlad previously held developer positions in both Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse.

Most Valuable Startup in the UK

The digital bank was ranked the most valuable startup in the UK for 2020, at £4.2 billion. This was after they announced the receipt of a $500 million in funding from Technology Crossover Ventures notably also backing LinkedIn and Spotify. This catapulted them ahead of their peers Monzo also a digital bank given a £2 billion valuation. The platform now boasts of over 10 million clients globally.

These funds were most likely poured into the hiring of new staff process as they sought to increase their global presence.

In an interview with a media outlet last year CEO, Storonsky highlighted that they intended to onboard over 5000 new staff (technology developers, data scientists, support staff, compliance experts, and senior executives) by the end of 2020. It is yet to be seen how the global Covid-19 has impeded their expansion plans.

“Right now, I would say 60 percent of my time is just spent on hiring.”

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Author: Lujan Odera

Central Bank Survey: 80% of Australians Are Aware of Crypto But Only 1% Are Actually Using

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) states that Less than 1% of people in Australia have paid for goods using cryptocurrency, according to a study conducted yesterday.

The findings were revealed in the triennial Consumer Payments Survey (CPS) released by the RBA. They came from around 1,100 respondents and shown that while consumers in the country prefer digital or alternative methods of payment, they’re still not that into crypto. The survey was conducted last year, in October and November.

Many Study Respondents Aware of Crypto

In spite of the fact that many study respondents said they’re aware of crypto’s and that they can be used for services, but only a low number of the people participating in the study reported to have used crypto.

More than 80% of those questioned said they’ve heard of it, which means crypto occupies the third position among the most recognized alternative methods of payment. Tap and go payments with mobile devices and buy now pay later services are on the first two positions.

WeChat and AliPay Users Uninterested in Crypto

The respondents using WeChat Pay, AliPay, the bank-provided Beem It and PayID services, or other in-app mobile payment solutions said they were not using crypto at all. The survey shows that crypto’s usage-to-awareness ratio is the lowest. Here’s RBA’s opinion on the matter:

“Although many respondents had heard of ‘cryptocurrencies’, very few had used a cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin to actually make a consumer payment over the past year.”

RBA’s First CPS Survey on Crypto

The RBA has previously had doubts about the potential of crypto ever replacing the existing payment methods. The central bank’s CPS use of cryptocurrencies survey on the matter was the first survey done, having a total of 5 of them conducted in the past. It seems Australians were using less cash in 2019, especially those respondents who haven’t yet reached the age of 40.

As a matter of fact, this specific group of people used cash for only 15% of the transactions they made. More than this, the survey discovered that even the seniors are no longer using cash either, although it’s their most popular payment method. The most used payment methods now are mobile ones, especially in the young demographics age group.

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Author: Oana Ularu

Australia’s National Stock Exchange Is Building A DLT-Based Real-Time Trading Platform

Both companies listed publicly, NSX Ltd., which is the owner of the National Stock Exchange of Australia, and the financial institution known as iSignthis (ISX) have announced on Thursday that they’re partnering up to offer a platform for trading digital securities.

The platform will be called ClearPay. It is going to be distributed ledger technology (DLT)-based and at the same time offer almost instant transactions instead of delayed settlement. The know your customer’s customer type of security and other solutions offered by iSignthis will be integrated in it.

ClearPay to Compete with ASX

ClearPay aims to compete with ASX, also known as the Australian Securities Exchange, since the ASX is also working to replace its out-of-date CHESS clearing system with DLT. The exchange is collaborating with the blockchain company Digital Asset to provide same-day settlement solutions, as traditional trades take up to 3 days at the moment. The ASX is thinking about starting to test its new platform in July this year.

NSX’s Time to Act

NSX’s CEO Thomas Price mentioned in an interview that cash equity exchanges all over the world are going through a technological revolution and that the market is in agreement when it comes to challenging settlement and clearing legacy methods. Here are his exact words on what NSX should do in such a climate:

“Having patiently monitored the development of the appropriate technology … we consider that this is the right time for the NSX to act.”

ISX Invested $4.2 Million in NSX

ISX invested through a private placement not less than $4.2 million in NSX. This means the investor gets a 12.96% stake in NSX at a share of $0.145. It’s expected for ClearPay to go live at the beginning of next year. After this will happen, the international and domestic broker network should join through the ISO20022 electronic data interchange standard while using a standard blockchain for participation. Share registry operators and participants will gain access to the DTL platform that is going to have the National Stock Exchange of Australia as a central authority.

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Author: Oana Ularu

MoneyGram Money Transfer Service Gets Investment from Ripple to Boost XRP Adoption

MoneyGram will use Ripple’s On-Demand Liquidity (ODL) solution in Australia, Europe and other important markets.

The US-based and blockchain company Ripple made a $20 million investment in the money transfer giant MoneyGram, announces a Ripple press release. This means Ripple owns a 15% stake that includes non-voting warrants in MoneyGram. This is what the CEO and Chairman of MoneyGram Alex Holmes had to say about the collaboration:

“Our partnership with Ripple is transformative for both the traditional money transfer and digital asset industry – for the first time ever, we’re settling currencies in seconds. This initial success encourages us to expedite expanding our use of On-Demand Liquidity.”

Both Parties Involved Are Sure to Win

Ripple started collaborating with MoneyGram back in 2018 when MoneyGram begun running its pilot program for testing the digital token XRP in order to reduce money transfer costs. In June 2019, the cryptocurrency giant Ripple bought $30 million worth of shares at MoneyGram and signed a 2-year partnership that requires the money transfer company to use XRP when making cross-border payments. When this happened, Garlinghouse said the deal is a crucial milestone in the cryptocurrency space because it helps Ripple prove how efficient the blockchain technology is, while MoneyGram is allowed to remain profitable in times of struggle.

New XRP Markets

The Ripple MoneyGram partnership has proven to be a success, seeing that now Ripple’s ODL solution is processing 10% of the MXN-USD Moneygram transactions. The liquidity index for XRP has gone over the Mexican exchange Bitso’s 6 million mark. With this new investment, MoneyGram will continue expanding to European and Australian markets and the adoption of XRP will be boosted. On November 23, XRP surpassed other major coins and set a new high for the daily transaction volume.

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Author: Oana Ularu

Power Ledger Launches a Blockchain Energy Trading Software, Virtual Power Plant, in Australia

Power Ledger, an Australian blockchain company, is launching blockchain technology in South Australia in partnership with a local energy retailer, Powerclub. With the new blockchain technology, Australians will be able to pool excess solar energy and battery storage into a Virtual Power Plant, which enhances effective management and exercises significant control over their energy.

Like all other Power Ledger’s initiatives, this new project aims at reducing annual energy costs and allowing users to access wallet-friendly electricity prices. The partnership will see an integration of Powerclub, an Australian electricity wholesaler with Power Ledger’s blockchain energy trading software Virtual Power Plant.

Virtual Power Plant is a cloud-based power distribution plant designed to provide energy trading and enhancement of power generation. Powerclub members will be able to pool their battery storage and net solar, which will act as a Virtual Power Plant. With the shared pool, users can sell solar power when the demand for electricity is high.

Virtual Power Plant is Power Ledger’s first large-scale rollout of the company’s trading technology. The company had launched a similar energy trading project in September 2019. A similar trial on Blockchain energy trading was launched by the company in the Kanto region, Japan.

According to the chairman and co-founder at Power Ledger, Jemma Green, the future of the electricity industry will be democratized and decentralized. This revolution in the industry will be similar to what happened in the taxi industry after the launch of software applications such as Ola and Uber.

The new technology aims at democratizing and decentralizing the energy industry. It will give Australians control over how they use and pay for energy. This will help them avoid additional expenses charged by electricity retailers.

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Author: Denis Miriti

ASX to Replace Its CHESS System with Blockchain as Chi-X Asks ACCC to Investigate Its Competitors

Chi-X Australia has called the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to investigate a case against the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX). According to the company, its competitor’s use of blockchain technology could present an “unfair advantage” in the market.

All of this stems from a recent decision made by the ASX to ditch its old clearinghouse system and use a new blockchain registry, which will be the standard technology for clearing and settlement now.

The general counsel of Chi-X, Michael Somes, affirmed that the blockchain will make some current problems get even worse in the future. According to him, there is a substantial gap between the current system of the ASX and its competitors. With the blockchain, the problem will only get worse because the gap will get wider.

He said,

“There’s a substantial moat around the ASX clearing and settlement business… And the CHESS replacement project is perhaps making it bigger. […] It would be very difficult for the competition to bridge that moat – I’m not saying it won’t happen… but it needs to be regulated as if it won’t.”

While it may seem that the complaint is hollow, there are grounds for the appeal, according to the Australian legislative framework. Chi-X Australia is ASX’s sole competitor and also its only client for clearing services. This could, in theory, give one of the exchanges an unfair advantage that could only grow over time.

Blockchain And Stock Markets

The ASX is far from the only company using the blockchain to upgrade the efficiency of its products. In fact, many stock market operators are doing it all over the world. The London Stock Exchange and the Shangai Stock Exchange are examples. They are among the most powerful companies to exist in this niche and have discovered that the blockchain can bring many benefits.

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Author: Hank Klinger