Westpac, ANZ and NAB aren't planning a bitcoin crackdown ... yet

Westpac, ANZ and NAB aren't planning a bitcoin crackdown ... yet

Westpac, ANZ and NAB aren't planning a bitcoin crackdown ... yet

Updated 6 February 2018, 7:10 AEDT

Australia's largest banks have confirmed they do not currently have plans to block their customers from buying bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, despite the fact some UK and US banks have instituted a crypto-ban.

Australia's largest banks have confirmed they do not currently have plans to block their customers from buying bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

This differs from the approach taken by UK-based Lloyds Banking Group, and US banks JP Morgan, Bank of America and Citi.

Those banks, in recent days, have announced they will ban their customers from using credit cards to purchase digital currencies.

ANZ's response

ANZ told the ABC that it "does not prohibit customers buying digital or cryptocurrencies, or accepting them as a form of payment".

However, ANZ's spokesperson said: "We monitor transactions for unusual behaviour to protect against potential fraud and in line with our regulatory responsibilities."

"We do not bank [with] businesses that operate as issuers, dealers or exchanges of digital or cryptocurrency."

Its reasoning was that "these businesses are currently unregulated and therefore not within ANZ policy".

What NAB said

National Australia Bank suggested it might not allow certain cryptocurrency transactions to proceed if security concerns arise.

"ASIC advises that, as most of the virtual currency exchange platforms are generally not regulated, customers may not be protected or have any legal recourse if the platform fails or is hacked," NAB's spokesperson said.

"We take the protection of our customers' information and accounts extremely seriously.

"To reduce the risk for our customers, and to help protect their money, some card transactions may not be processed."

What about Westpac and CBA?

Westpac's spokeswoman confirmed: "We currently have no restrictions on credit card use to purchase cryptocurrency."

However, she would not comment on the bank's future plans and the potential for a ban — similar to Westpac's US and UK counterparts.

Commonwealth Bank was contacted for comment, but has not yet responded.

Hardline stance

None of the Australian banks' positions are as severe as their UK counterparts.

"Across Lloyds Bank, Bank of Scotland, Halifax and MBNA [the brands under its corporate umbrella], we do not accept credit card transactions involving the purchase of cryptocurrencies," a Lloyds spokeswoman said in an email.

Lloyds' new policy takes effect from today, Reuters reported.

However, the crypto-ban does not apply to debit cards.

Lloyds is concerned its customers may buy bitcoin and other digital currencies to make profits when they rise — but face significant debts when they fall.

The bank is concerned it could ultimately bear the liability of any unpaid debts should the cryptocurrency market continue to fall.

Bitcoin plunged below $US9,000 ($11,358) on Friday — after Facebook announced a policy banning cryptocurrency advertising on its network, and the Indian Government hinted at its upcoming crackdown.

ABC/Reuters