ACCC Finds Australian Banks Didn’t Collude Slowdown Bitcoin

JP Buntinx | February 15, 2016 | 8:03 am
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ACCC Finds Australian Banks Didn’t Collude Slowdown Bitcoin

JP Buntinx | February 15, 2016 | 8:03 am

Even though there are plenty of financial institutions who have taken a keen interest in the development of blockchain technology, some Australian banks were taking a slightly different approach. By actively blocking fiat currency withdrawals from Bitcoin exchanges, rumors of possible collusion started popping up. After an investigation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission – or ACCC in short –  it turns out all of these banks are in the clear, as no evidence was found proving any malicious activity was going on.

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Purposefully Declining Withdrawals From Bitcoin Companies

Over the years, various Bitcoin users have had issues with their bank when trying to either buy or sell the popular digital currency. With transfers being blocked for no apparent reason, consumers are left in the dark as to what is going on behind the scenes. Rumors of a deliberate collusion against Bitcoin competition started appearing, and a proper investigation has been launched since that time.

Based on the findings of ACCC chairman Rod Sims, there seems to be no evidence of any bank collusion to block Bitcoin transfers. This outcome is rather unexpected, considering how various companies have had their bank accounts shut down. However, Sims confirmed all of these events took place on an individual basis, and there was no coordinated “attack” against Bitcoin companies to speak of.

Those findings did not sit well with the affected Bitcoin companies by any means, as they felt treated unfairly. Additionally, there was the matter of ACCC chairman Sims not even talking to the affected Bitcoin companies during his investigation, which is not a sound basis to gain insights into the issue. Keeping in mind how roughly 17 Australian Bitcoin startups received written warnings from their banks, there seems to be a lot more going on than “individual decisions.”

While it is true banks have the right to close every single account on a whim’s notice, it remains peculiar how they picked out the Bitcoin companies. There is a legal ground for banks to refuse dealing with a digital currency company,  and as Bitcoin’s legal status remains a gray area, for now, the ACCC feels their decisions were justified.

Sims goes on stating how the banks have – allegedly – made their independent decisions at different times, and not all of the outcomes are the same. After all, several Australian banks are still keeping an open mind towards Bitcoin and digital currency, indicating these closures are just an unfortunate string of events.

Lack of Information Prevents Proper ACCC Investigation

While it may seem clear to the general public there was no collusion effort by the investigated banks; the Bitcoin community still feels there is a lot more to this story than meets the eye. Things become especially worrying when ACCC chairman Sims mentioned how their investigators are well trained in detecting any anomalies that may occur.

This may be true up to a certain extend for traditional finance, but Bitcoin is a vastly different creature as it operates outside of the borders of regular financial activity. In fact, the ACCC investigators may not even be able to tell when the wool is being spun in front of their own eyes, as there is still an educational gap to cross.

The Australian Digital Currency Commerce Association chairman Ron Tucker has confirmed a meeting has taken place between the ACCC and ADCCA. However, he rebutted Sims’ comments regarding any direct contact between the ACCC and any of the affected Bitcoin businesses. By the look of things, this is turning into a “he said, she said” kind of discussion, rather than trying to address a potential critical issue in the Australian banking sector.

Source: AFR

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