Sydney-based crypto entrepreneur Michaela Juric, Founder of peer-to-peer trading platform Bitcoin Babe, said she has been shunned by 91 financial institutions, included on a terrorism watchlist, and “bullied” by the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) because of her crypto-related business activities.
Testifying before the Australian Senate as part of the Australia as a Technology and Financial Centre inquiry, Juric said that being debanked had a major impact on her life.
“I’ve been very grateful for my seven years in the crypto community and all that I’ve learned, and the people that I’ve met. But at the end of the day, the irreversible damage to my livelihood has been done,” the entrepreneur said, as quoted by The Sydney Morning Herald.
“I’ve had banks go as far as report me as being like a terrorist on some databases,” according to Juric.
The issue of debanking of individuals and entities involved in cryptoassets is one of the topics explored by the Select Committee chaired by Senator Andrew Bragg who declares he wants to find ways to improve services in the sector.
Also taking part in the inquiry, Rebecca Schot-Guppy, CEO of local industry association Fintech Australia, reportedly told senators she was aware of numerous similar incidents in which members of her organization were targeted by banks.
“I’ve got at least 14 anecdotal issues, but I’d say that there’s least 150 of them that have been debanked over time,” she said, as reported by Zdnet.com. “I would say at least 100 of them are fintech businesses, given that the highest amount of debanking occurs probably in that payments space”.
During her testimony, Schot-Guppy called on the committee to put an end to similar malpractices which she described as “anti-competitive”. Another reason behind debanking is related to anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing concerns by banks, she said.
Australian fintechs “can’t actually operate their business without transaction accounts, or the ability to access payment rails … when a bank does debank an Australian fintech, it has really wide effects, too,” the CEO said.
Fintech Australia says it has about 800 members across the country. The Australian fintech industry was worth AUD 4bn (USD 2.9bn) last year, according to data from the association.
Day 3 discussions from the senate inquiry into Australia as a Technology and Financial Centre, 08/09/2021.
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