Amid a national conversation on debanking of crypto businesses, one of Australia’s “Big Four” banks — ANZ — has settled a case brought by local exchange operator Allan Flynn, who argued ANZ debanked him due to his occupation in cryptocurrency.

Fast facts

  • Flynn, crypto trader and owner of the Australian exchange CanberraBitcoin, announced the settlement on Twitter late last week, sharing a statement that read: “ANZ further acknowledges that this could, subject to the defence in section 57N, have amounted to unlawful discrimination contrary to sections 7(1)(p) and 20 of the Discrimination Act 1991 (ACT).” This was only one of two debanking claims Flynn had lodged against two of Australia’s largest banks; another claim with Westpac will be heard later this week.
  • Debanking has been a growing issue in Australia of late, making up part of the remit for the ongoing Senate Select Committee on Australia as a Technology and Financial Centre, headed by Senator Andrew Bragg. While Australia’s banking sector has long denied allegations of the practice, there is a growing list of complaints from within the crypto industry that they are being unfairly targeted. During a recent parliamentary hearing on the issue, global payments Unicorn Nium said Australia was the only country of the 40 in which it operates to have been debanked in this way.
  • Michael Bacina, partner at Piper Alderman, who also sits on the board of Blockchain Australia, told Forkast.News he is hopeful this move is a step in the right direction. “Crypto businesses are wary about speaking out lest they be debanked as a result,” he said. “Many will view this as a positive development, but I expect there will be a healthy dose of scepticism.”
  • He also added: “The myth of digital assets being predominantly used for money laundering or crime is slowly being dispelled but conservative businesses will take time to educate themselves and understand that a traceable public blockchain is one of the worst places to launder money or commit crimes. Busts by the U.S. Department of Justice and work involving Chainalysis make this point quite clearly.  Hopefully the actions that Mr. Flynn is bringing will help push that conversation forward.”
  • Australia’s tax office recently responded to the Senate committee, saying it believed many crypto investors were unaware of their tax obligations. Under Australian law, each crypto trade or swap constitutes a taxable event and is subject to capital gains tax, not just the net gains or losses at the end of the financial year. The tax office said it believes this is driven by a lack of understanding, rather than deliberate non-compliance, and intends to promote awareness of the issue in the coming months.