Australian banks, both government funded and commercial institutions, demonstrated the tendency to manipulate certain industries and companies in order to gain monopoly over the market in the past year. The national government is closely eyeing these banks to ensure that the Blockchain market is free from excessive control.
In early 2016, Australian banks and financial institutions banned bank accounts of Bitcoin without any prior notice or formal explanation. According to the banks, this was a part of a larger initiative to gain control and establish a Blockchain market in Australia.
As most Bitcoin enthusiasts and cryptocurrency investors understand by now, the Blockchain hype was introduced by the world’s leading banks and financial institutions in 2015 as a desperate attempt to compete with Bitcoin.
Thus, to the banks, Bitcoin startups and entrepreneurs were competitors and terminating their popular services and operations was their highest priority.
Blockchain Monopolization & Government’s Efforts
The Australian government and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) are carefully and closely eying major Australian banks, including Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Westpac, National Australia Bank, and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, to ensure that they don’t gain total monopoly over the Blockchain market.
ACCC Chairman Rod Sims stated that the “Big Four” banks haven’t made any major proposals or deals to Blockchain startups. However, if the banks begin to acquire Blockchain technologies and companies, the ACCC will step in to regulate.
"I think we need to, as an organisation, take a really close look at these things. This means making a forward-looking judgment. Will these things be disruptive in the future? They may be small now. What can they unlock in the future?"
Sims further noted that banks will be required to “ask permission” from the ACCC before cooperating with Blockchain startups and smaller projects.
However, it is difficult to speculate on the effect the ACCC regulations would have on the Blockchain industry. Currently, a lot of Blockchain startups, especially those focused on cross-border payments and settlement of assets, are backed by banks and financial institutions.
If ACCC steps in and creates this boundary between banks and Blockchain startups, it would most likely discourage banks from cooperating with local startups and restrict the development and innovation in the FinTech industry.