The rise of crypto scams?
The ACCC recently commissioned a report titled Targeting scams that investigated the scams many Australians are falling prey to. The report summarised that in 2022, a total of $3 billion was lost due to scams in Australia.
In many reports, the scammer receives funds from the victim in the form of cryptocurrency. A total of $221 million was reported as lost in this way.
Based on the increased rise in scams involving crypto, the Big 4 Australian banks — CBA, NAB, Westpac, and ANZ — have all introduced additional restrictions for customers transacting with crypto exchange platforms. They believe this will reduce the $221 million lost due to scams where crypto was used for payment.
While these changes are intended to protect customers, they also hinder the activities of legitimate crypto investors, causing larger delays before payments arrive at a nominated crypto exchange, being blocked, or even having banking services terminated entirely.
To make it easier to find a suitable crypto bank account, we’ve evaluated the main Australian banks to find out which is the best in light of the recent updates.
Commonwealth Bank (least crypto-friendly)
A very cautious stance has been taken by Commonwealth Bank towards crypto, implementing limits and holds on crypto-related transactions. These measures, aimed at increasing customer safety, have led to some concerns over privacy and flexibility, especially for transactions with reputable Australian crypto exchanges.
Here’s the latest take from Commbank on crypto:
💬 We may limit the amount you can pay to certain accounts or merchants, for example those we believe to be associated with cryptocurrency exchanges, to no more than $10,000 in total from all of your accounts each calendar month.
Read more: Changes to cryptocurrency and other payments
In short, you can only send $10,000 per month from comm bank to your crypto exchange.
While it may be inconvenient to have payments delayed, you may end up thankful for the additional security on Commonwealth Bank crypto transactions in the event that you are targeted by a scammer.
If you’re only investing smaller amounts, then you may not mind having a short delay on your Commbank crypto transactions in exchange for the greater security.
Following suit, NAB has also introduced heavy restrictions on transactions to certain crypto exchanges. These changes, effective since July 2023, were introduced due to the escalating number of crypto scams.
This is the latest information from NAB on crypto:
💬 From 18 July 2023, we are introducing new customer protections by declining some transactions made to high-risk cryptocurrency exchanges.
Read more: Cryptocurrency payment changes
In short, NAB is flat-out declining transfers to ‘high-risk’ cryptocurrency exchanges. Unfortunately, there is no list; you’ll only find out when you see ‘Issuer Declined Transaction’ on your statement.
If you’re only using reputable Australian exchanges, then in practice, you may not encounter as many issues with your NAB crypto payments.
ANZ has also adjusted its policies in response to the increase in crypto scams. The bank's cautious approach impacts the extent to which it can support crypto investors, balancing risk with customer service.
Here’s how ANZ is addressing crypto bank accounts:
💬 ANZ’s newest measures include: Preventing payments being made to particular high risk cryptocurrency platforms and introducing new holds and delays to some payment types and destinations.
Read more: Continuing to invest in new measures
Unlike NAB, ANZ still allows payments to crypto platforms, but they are introducing holds and delays to slow them down.
Anecdotal feedback from ANZ customers suggests that this can involve having to follow up with the ANZ crypto security team, certainly an additional hassle.
Westpac's revised policies in response to crypto fraud have affected the way crypto investors engage with their services. The bank's approach to managing the risks associated with crypto transactions has led to a more restrictive environment for investors.
Here’s the latest update on crypto from Westpac:
💬 Westpac has begun trialing new customer protections for some cryptocurrency payments to reduce scam losses.
Read more: Westpac trials new cryptocurrency blocks to prevent scam losses
Westpac is certainly vague about what measures they have actually introduced, but feedback from customers indicates that they have been delaying and declining payments to certain platforms. If you stick to reputable exchanges, and are only transacting smaller amounts, then you may not have any issues with your Westpac crypto payments.
ING (Crypto-Friendly Bank)
In contrast to its counterparts, ING Bank has been standing out as a favorable option for crypto investors. Unlike other banks, ING seems to have found a balance between security and customer convenience, making them an ideal choice for managing a crypto bank account without the restrictive measures seen in other banks.
Notably, there have been fewer issues cited by customers regarding ING crypto transactions. This makes ING an attractive choice for those looking for a more accommodating and user-friendly banking experience in the crypto space.