Commonwealth Bank of Australia recognizes risks in missing out on crypto

Commonwealth Bank of Australia recognizes risks in missing out on crypto

Matt Comyn, the CEO of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), said that the bank is more concerned about the risks of missing out on crypto than those associated with its adoption.

The CBA is set to become the first of the “big four” banks in Australia to offer crypto-based services, after the company announced on Nov. 3 that it will support the trading of 10 digital assets directly via its banking app.

Speaking with Bloomberg TV on Friday, Nov. 19, Comyn was questioned on the CBA’s take on the crypto sector, with the CEO noting that:

“We see risks in participating, but we see bigger risks in not participating. It’s important to say that we don’t have a view on the asset price itself, we see it as a very volatile and speculative asset, but we also don’t think that the sector and the technology is going away anytime soon.”

Comyn also suggested that there will be much more to come from the CBA’s crypto adoption play, as he highlighted that the bank sees many use cases from blockchain tech, along with strong demand from consumers.

“And so we want to understand it, we want to provide a competitive offering to customers with the right disclosure around risks. We want to build capability in and around DLT and blockchain technology,” he added.

ASIC holds no FOMO and can’t regulate the sector

While the CBA appears to be bullish on crypto and distributed ledger tech, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has urged for investor caution while also noting that it is unable to oversee the sector.

Speaking at the Australian Financial Review Super & Wealth Summit on Nov. 22, ASIC chairman Joe Longo suggested that the financial enforcer cannot regulate crypto as the asset class currently does not fall under the scope of “financial products” in Australia:

“The demand-driven nature of the rush into crypto has thrown up some unique challenges. At present many crypto-assets are probably not ‘financial products’, making it difficult for financial advisers to offer counsel.”

“ASIC has already provided some guidance on exchange-traded funds linked to crypto-assets — they at least are financial products and traded on a licensed exchange, so there will be some protections there — but for the most part, for now at least, investors are on their own,” he added.

Related: Reserve Bank warns Aussies over punting on ‘fad driven’ cryptocurrencies

In Longo’s personal view, he urged local investors to pursue crypto with great caution, noting that “the maxim ‘don’t put all your eggs in one basket’ comes to mind.” However, he also emphasized that the crypto proposals put forward by the Australian Senate last month was the right move for the local climate.

“Wherever we land from a policy perspective, Senator Bragg’s committee was right to highlight the fact that crypto is on our doorstep, here and now, and being driven by extraordinary consumer and investor demand,” he said.