It’s been a huge week of news for crypto Down Under. ASIC gave the green light for the trading of Bitcoin and Ethereum ETFs, the ASX’s first crypto focussed ETF – CRYP – launched and CBA made a landmark move into the industry, announcing a pilot program for its app that will allow customers to buy, sell and hold 10 crypto assets, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash and Litecoin.
All these events have changed the face of Australia’s investment landscape forever. But will it be a mole or a facelift?
Whatever the case, the Commonwealth Bank is betting it will be here to stay. As The Sydney Morning Herald reports, the bank’s chief executive, Matt Comyn, said CBA saw long-term potential of cryptocurrencies in payments and investing, and wanted to lead the innovation.
According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Mr Comyn said in a media briefing that “the category itself is polarising people entirely.”
“Some [banks] are going down the path like we are – a smaller number probably – running some experiments. Others are sort of hoping that regulators will regulate the industry out of existence. Our view is that’s probably unlikely.”
Josh Gilbert, eToro market analyst told DMARGE: “In my opinion, this is a significant step for cryptoassets in terms of institutional and mainstream acceptance.”
“We know from eToro’s previous Retail Investor Beat survey that there’s growing interest from Australian investors in cryptoassets, especially as it continues to hit the mainstream.”
“Ultimately this could be the tipping point in Australia and it wouldn’t surprise me that other big institutional names may follow suit in the not-too-distant future.”
He added: “For a bank of CBA’s size to offer cryptoassets to retail investors through its banking services is historic. We’ve seen banks in the US offer cryptoasset exposure to institutional investors, but nothing like this. For too long, banks have pushed cryptoassets to the side, yet now that they’ve seen the current soaring demand, it’s evident that they can no longer just sit on the sidelines.”
“Long term, moves like this from CBA will help to further legitimise cryptoassets and, in my eyes, will only help with crypto’s long term value.”
In terms of ASIC giving the trading of Bitcoin and Ethereum ETFs a green light, Mr Gilbert told DMARGE: “The new crypto ETFs in the US and soon-to-be in Australia, helps to provide investors with exposure to cryptoassets when they might not have previously had that option.”
“For example, superannuation accounts are a huge addressable market for cryptoassets, and it’s expected that we may see more investors wanting to make sure cryptoassets are part of their diversified investment portfolios moving forward.”
Tim Brunette, co-founder and CTO of Crypto Tax Calculator, an Australian company that helps crypto investors do their taxes, told DMARGE he believes CBA’s landmark move will “legitimise the space and bring investors who were risk-averse into the market, giving them an easy onboarding process.”
“If they’ve been doing share trading it’s not too much of a stretch to use the CBA app to do crypto trading,” Mr Brunette told DMARGE.
“So it’s legitimising it and making it more mainstream. I think it will be good for the industry as a whole.”
Despite Australia’s small population size, Australian crypto investors actually, as a percentage of our population, punch above their weight when compared with the rest of the world in terms of adoption of crypto, various studies have found.
Mr Brunette told DMARGE: “Australia is actually one of the leaders in the space.” He then said the ATO seems to be trying to work with the industry rather than against it.
“You’ve got the IRS trying to shut down exchanges in the United States, and now you’ve got a bank here in Australia welcoming crypto.”
“I think that’s really positive for Australia to use this space to our advantage to give us a tech foothold.”
That being said: don’t expect your silly shitcoins to be on the CBA app just yet (or ever). According to Mr Brunette that could open the door to a PR nightmare (especially given how strongly the CBA is warning customers about even the big established coins like Bitcoin, when it comes to characteristics like volatility, and not investing more than you can afford to lose).
“There’d have to be a risk analyst of any new potential coins,” Mr Brunette told DMARGE, when we asked him whether he thought CBA would add ‘meme coins’ to their app down the track.
“Anything that isn’t mainstream, it’s pretty unlikely they’re going to list it. You can’t have some token, which is backed by anonymous founders and there’s some rug pull. That would be a PR nightmare on CBA.”
Another interesting aspect of this week’s news is that CBA’s move could “eat into the crypto-only exchanges,” Mr Brunette told DMARGE.
Interest piqued? Keep up to date with the latest changes in the crypto world via DMARGE’s money vertical here.