Another banking institution is taking steps to enter the digital currency ecosystem.
Commonwealth Bank (CBA), the largest bank by market capitalization in Australia, plans to allow its more than 6 million customers to buy, sell and hold bitcoins from its banking app, CommBank. This was announced by the institution this Wednesday in a press release. The local news portal Australian Financial Review had advanced the information earlier in a report that cited sources close to the matter.
According to the official publication, the CBA is preparing to integrate the trading of Bitcoin and other digital currencies directly from its app. The bank will initially launch a pilot test for a limited number of clients and subsequently, by 2022, will implement the full service.
The move will make the Australian bank the first in the country to offer its clients cryptocurrency services amid widespread demand for the new asset class. CBA is currently Australia’s leading provider of financial services, including retail, premium, corporate and institutional banking. It has more than 6.5 million clients, representing more than 25% of the total population of the country.
CBA will offer cryptocurrency services
To carry out the initiative, CBA has partnered with the United States-based cryptocurrency exchange Gemini and blockchain analytics company Chainalysis. Both associations collaborated with the bank with the design of the cryptocurrency exchange and custody service that will be offered to customers through the application.
As such, the banking institution will offer services with ten cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash and Litecoin, as detailed in the statement. The CBA also noted that the initiative arises in response to the interest of its clients and as a way to capture a growing market. The pilot program is expected to start within the next few weeks.
“CBA’s research has found that a large number of its clients want to access crypto assets as an investment class and are already buying, selling and holding crypto assets through a variety of crypto exchanges,” the bank wrote. Matt Comyn, CEO of CBA, also added along these lines:
The emergence and growing demand for digital currencies by customers creates 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 that we can play a significant role in crypto to address what is clearly a growing need from customers and provide capacity, security and trust in a crypto trading platform,” Comyn added. He also assured that the respective associations allow the bank to provide “a reliable and safe experience” to the millions of CBA clients.
In the statement, the Australian bank also announced that it is considering adding other features to its app in the future. “We remain committed to reinventing banking,” they highlighted.
Other banks could follow suit
Commonwealth Bank is joining a handful of other financial institutions in the world that are adopting Bitcoin to serve the growing demand for the asset. Major US banks such as US Bank, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan, Wells Fargo and others have been taking steps into the growing market to offer their wealthiest clients exposure to digital currencies.
The trend spreads to the rest of the world. A few weeks ago we reported that BTG Pactual, the largest bank in Brazil, launched a platform dedicated to trading cryptocurrencies.
In this context, several members of Australia’s digital currency ecosystem have already anticipated that other banks could join the trend. In an interview with Cointelegraph, Steve Vallas, CEO of Blockchain Australia, said that following the CBA initiative, it is “inevitable” that the other “big four” banks, including the National Australia Bank (NAB), Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) and Westpac, do the same soon.
It is inevitable that the other banks will follow suit. Clarity is emerging in the local regulatory landscape with issues like licensing being addressed directly by industry and governments. That impediments to action and participation are being removed.
For her part, the executive director of the local cryptocurrency exchange BTC Markets, Caroline Bowler, echoed Vallas’s comments, noting that “with regulation in sight and the country’s largest bank allowing it, the floodgates are now open for a greater appetite for traditional finance.”