Westpac, Australia’s oldest bank, announced a ban on cryptocurrency transactions to certain exchanges on May 18. The bank said that it is blocking a number of crypto exchanges as part of a trial to “reduce scam losses.”
According to internal Westpac data, half of all scam losses come from investment scams, and one-third of all scam payments are transferred to cryptocurrency exchanges. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Scamwatch also said last month that investment scams constituted the largest portion of scams reported to Scamwatch, ReportCyber, the Australian Financial Crimes Exchange, IDCare, and ASIC.
The bank’s move to block transactions to crypto exchanges could potentially save customers millions of dollars, Westpac Group Executive of Customer Services and Technology, Scott Collary said.
“Often our customers only discover they’ve been scammed after the money has left the country, making recovery extremely difficult.
The trial of our new security measures will better protect customers from scams. In particular, it will target investment scams, which have a devastating impact on our customers.”
While the bank did not explicitly name Binance, the exchange is believed to be impacted by it. Chris Whittingham, general manager of risk and fraud operations at Westpac, told the Australian Financial Review that proceeds from scams are usually sent to “high-risk” overseas exchanges.
Binance Australia had its derivatives trading license canceled last month. The exchange is also under investigation by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) for potentially violating its license by providing derivatives trading to retail Australian traders.
Trouble on multiple fronts
Earlier today, Binance Australia announced that it can no longer process PayID Australian Dollar deposits. This is because a third-party service provider, Cuscal, restricted access.
Binance and its CEO Changpeng Zhao are also facing a lawsuit in the U.S. by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. The lawsuit filed in March alleges that Binance is operating an illegal exchange and violated market laws.
At the time, a Binance spokesperson called the lawsuit “unexpected and disappointing” and said that the exchange had been cooperating with regulators for two years.
Last month, CFTC Chairman Rostin Benham said that Binance willfully and deliberately broke market laws by soliciting and offering futures contracts and derivatives to U.S. customers.
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