Australian bank offers customers ability to buy, sell and hold crypto assets

CBA promises to provide customers with access to up to ten selected crypto assets including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash and Litecoin.

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JOHANNESBURG - Commonwealth Bank (CBA) announced that it will become Australia’s first bank to offer customers the ability to buy, sell and hold crypto assets, directly through the CommBank app.

The bank has said to have partnered with one of the world’s largest regulated crypto exchanges and custodians, Gemini, and leading blockchain analysis firm, Chainalysis. Both partnerships have allowed the bank to design a crypto exchange and custody service that will be offered to customers through a new feature in the app.

The pilot will start in the coming weeks and CBA intends to progressively rollout more features to more customers in 2022.

CBA promises to provide customers with access to up to ten selected crypto assets including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash and Litecoin.

The bank said that research found that many of its customers wanted to access crypto assets as an investment class and are already buying, selling and holding crypto assets through a variety of crypto exchanges.

CBA CEO Matt Comyn said: “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.

“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.

“In looking at ways that we can support our customers, we have made the strategic decision to form an exclusive partnership in Australia with Gemini, a global leader with strong security and a track record of serving large institutions. CBA will leverage Gemini’s crypto exchange and custody service and integrate it into the CommBank app through APIs,” he said.

Meanwhile, Australia's banking watchdog said it was examining the regulatory implications of Commonwealth Bank's planned introduction of bitcoin trading to unsophisticated retail investors - the first bank in Australia to do so.

According to Reuters, the move is forcing financial watchdogs in Australia to immediately focus on the volatile $2 trillion crypto trading industry that many argue has no intrinsic value and relies on users' complete trust in different types of software.

A spokesperson for the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) told Reuters the country's largest lender had made the regulator aware of its plans and the authority was "examining regulatory issues that this raises".