Commonwealth Bank has announced plans to limit monthly transfers to certain accounts and merchants to protect customers from scams and fraud.
The emails seen by Daily Mail Australia were sent to Commonwealth customers notifying them that the measures will be implemented in early September or within 30 days of the notice being sent.
“We are introducing new measures to help protect you from scams and fraud,” the bank stated in the emails.
“We may limit the amount you can pay to certain accounts or merchants, for example those we believe are associated with cryptocurrency exchanges, to no more than $10,000 in total from all your accounts each calendar month.”
In its revised terms and conditions, the bank advises that it can “suspend or close your account, terminate or suspend your card or other method of access” to stop payments associated with cryptocurrency.
Commonwealth Bank is limiting the amount its customers can spend on crypto transactions
You may also refuse to ‘process or withhold processing of a transaction or deal, or particular types of transactions or deals’, without notice.
Fred Schebesta, the founder of financial services comparison app Finder and self-described “Crypto King of Australia”, said that while it was important to protect banks from customers, it should not stifle digital finance innovation.
“I am not surprised that the Commonwealth Bank has announced that it is limiting transfers to cryptocurrency exchanges,” he told Daily Mail Australia on Thursday.
The crypto market capitalization is estimated to be worth $1.22 ($1.87) trillion dollars and there are a growing number of people entering the crypto space.
“Banks must be careful not to hinder the evolution of digital finance.”
A CBA spokesperson told Daily Mail Australia that the move “aims to protect customers from scam risks associated with making certain payments to these crypto exchanges.”
“Basically, it’s just meant to help reduce the number and amount of money lost by customers,” the spokesperson said.
“We are doing everything we can to strike a balance that keeps all customers safe and minimizes inconvenience for many.”
Since June, when the Commonwealth Bank first announced the planned measures, it has been holding crypto payments for 24 hours before settling them.
Self-proclaimed ‘Crypto-King’ Fred Schebesta said banks need to make sure they don’t stifle digital currency innovation
“Customers making payments to cryptocurrency exchanges currently face a significantly increased risk of potentially being scammed,” CBA General Manager of Fraud Management Services James Roberts said after the June announcement.
“While these measures will not eliminate the risk of customers suffering loss as a result of a scam involving a payment to a cryptocurrency exchange, they are part of a series of initiatives designed to help customers reduce the risk of falling victim. of a scam.” .
However, not all of the bank’s customers are convinced.
On a Facebook page dedicated to ‘negative experiences’ with the CBA, some saw the bank go overboard.
“I think all banks want to control our money so cash is the most reliable,” wrote one.
Another noted that it made daily crypto trading quite impossible. Some even accused the bank of hypocrisy.
“The crazy thing is that banks have efts (electronic funds transfers) now buying cryptocurrency and they want people not to buy,” the Facebook user said.
Changes to Commonwealth Bank accounts
In addition to any other limits that may apply, we may, at our discretion, limit the amount each user can transfer or pay from all accounts:
• to accounts and/or merchants that we reasonably believe may be owned or controlled by a cryptocurrency or digital asset exchange or that are used to purchase cryptocurrency or digital assets for no more than AUD$10,000 in a calendar month; I
• use a particular payment product, transaction type or trade to no more than AUD$10,000 in a calendar month; I
• where reasonably necessary to prevent systemic or individual criminal activity, including suspected or potential fraud or scams, up to a maximum of AUD$10,000 in a calendar month.
We may, at our discretion, and without liability to you for any loss or damage, remove or reduce your payment limit if:
• You have requested a higher payment limit and have not made any transactions using that increased limit in the last month; either
• we believe it is reasonably necessary to protect you or us from potential fraud, scams or other activities that could cause you or us to lose money. When we do this, we will act fairly and reasonably towards you.
We will not be responsible for any loss, cost, expense or other inconvenience you incur.
While the Commonwealth Bank spokesperson said the $10,000 is a cap that cannot be increased, the revised terms and conditions for savings and investment accounts were less clear.
They claimed that if a requested higher limit was set but not used for a period of one month, the bank could ‘eliminate or reduce it’.
The bank may also lower a limit or deny payments “if it believes it is reasonably necessary to protect you or us from potential fraud, scams, or other activities that may cause you or us to lose money.”
“When we do this, we will deal fairly and reasonably with you,” the terms state.
‘We will not be responsible for any loss, cost, expense or other inconvenience you incur.’
This appears to contradict other assurances that when the bank stops payments to cryptocurrency-associated entities or lowers limits, it will do so “without liability to you for any loss or damage.”
While the $10,000 limit is the total amount that can be transferred from the combined accounts a CBA client has, one Facebook user suggested a way around the new rules.
‘YO just transfer it to another bank and pay from there,’ they said.
Commonwealth Bank said it could freeze accounts or cards to prevent cryptocurrency transfers
Westpac announced in May that it has been testing “customer protections” for some cryptocurrency payments to reduce scams.
The bank did not say it was setting limits on transfers or give many details about how the “protection blocks” work.
In July, NAB also stated that it will “reject some transactions made on high-risk cryptocurrency exchanges, while Bendigo Bank said it would “block certain high-risk cryptocurrency-related transactions to protect its customers.”
All the banks stated that the measures were to protect customers from a “scam epidemic.”
The move comes as the bank opens a series of ‘cashless’ branches with customers who can no longer access their money over the counter.
Cash teller transactions are not available at branches including Commonwealth Bank Place in central Sydney along with nearby South Eveleigh, Barangaroo, Penrith and the University of Sydney, which the bank now calls “specialist centres”.
Daily Mail Australia also understands that some ‘specialist centres’ branches in Brisbane and Melbourne are no longer allowing cash withdrawals and deposits over the counter.
Deposits and withdrawals can still be made via on-site ATMs, but for those who don’t have their bank card handy, things get a lot more difficult.
Last week, Daily Mail Australia reported that Commonwealth Bank may also deny its services to anyone who, in “its opinion”, is “offensive, harassing or threatening to any person” or “promotes or encourages physical or mental harm to any person.” person”.
A Commonwealth Bank spokesperson told Daily Mail Australia the terms were to avoid “addressing the issue of financial abuse in the context of domestic and family violence”.
“In 2020, we updated our Acceptable Use Policy to address technology-facilitated abuse and provide a safer banking experience for customers,” the spokesperson said.
Any customer found to be using NetBank or the CommBank app to engage in illegal, defamatory, harassing or threatening conduct, which promotes or encourages physical or mental harm or violence against any person may have transactions denied or access to digital banking services is suspended or interrupted. ‘.
Last year, Australians lost more than $220 million to scammers via cryptocurrency, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission reported.
The watchdog warned with some scams that customers think they are investing in things other than cryptocurrency, but are asked to pay with that instead of cash.