Lack of regulation means some cryptocurrency start-ups are being 'debanked', with investors also at risk

www.abc.net.au
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A senate inquiry hears the nation needs to act quickly to protect the one in six Australians who own cryptocurrency, and to stop entrepreneurs moving overseas.
Cryptocurrency is creeping into the mainstream but Australia's laws have failed to keep up with the pace of growth, prompting calls from the industry for regulatory certainty.

Key points: A senate inquiry has heard banks are banning crypto start-ups because of a regulatory gap

A senate inquiry has heard banks are banning crypto start-ups because of a regulatory gap An estimated one in six Australians own cryptocurrency

An estimated one in six Australians own cryptocurrency Australians lost more than $25 million in bitcoin scams in the first half of this year

Michaela Juric, also know as Bitcoin Babe, has been denied services from 91 banks. It's what's known as being debanked.

Ms Juric runs a cryptocurrency exchange that's registered with the financial crimes regulator AUSTRAC. But that's hasn't been enough for the banks.

"When I started my business in 2014, I originally opened a bank account with Commonwealth Bank, it was shut down around six months later. And since then, it's been a domino effect of account closures."

A senate inquiry looking at ways to regulate cryptocurrency and digital assets has heard Ms Juric's experience is not an isolated case.

Crypto start-ups Nium and Ausmerchant have also given evidence about their experience of being debanked.

Liberal Senator Andrew Bragg says banks are using a regulatory gap to ban start-ups from services. ( ABC News: John Gunn

Liberal Senator Andrew Bragg is chairing the inquiry and said banks were using regulatory gaps to justify banning start-ups from its services.

"There has been some very troubling behaviour exhibited by banks, where there has been competition," Senator Bragg said.

Cryptocurrency businesses need to register with the financial crimes watchdog AUSTRAC, but the inquiry has heard evidence that the application process does not have enough checks and balances.

The inquiry has also heard criticism…
Rhiana Whitson
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