National Australia Bank (NAB) has blocked suspected fraudulent payments to some centralized crypto exchanges (CEXs) as Aussie lenders continue to make efforts to curb crypto-based scams in the country.
NAB blocks payments to some crypto exchanges
NAB is the latest financial institution to restrict crypto-related payments as part of a coordinated effort to curb scams.
Per a recent research report released by the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX), 15% of investors in the nation hold bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptos in their portfolio, underscoring the massive demand for blockchain-based digital assets in the country.
However, bad actors increasingly exploit Australians’ affinity for crypto to orchestrate scam schemes, bilking gullible victims. NAB says these scam schemes are a fast-growing security threat that cost Aussie investors $151 million in 2022 alone.
The lender has blamed its decision to block some payments directed to ‘high-risk’ centralized exchanges on the increase in crypto-based scam schemes in Australia, making it clear that nearly 50% of scam transactions recently reported to the Australian Financial Crimes Exchange were linked to crypto.
A transnational menace
NAB has stated that the bad actors orchestrating these scam schemes are part of transnational organized crime syndicates who often send stolen funds to offshore platforms.
Earlier, the Commonwealth Bank (CBA), the largest lender in Australia, imposed restrictions on crypto payments to exchanges last month, citing increased risks of fraudulent transactions.
Several top Aussie financial institutions, including Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. and Westpac Banking Corp., have taken similar actions recently, sparking criticism from market participants.
While the NAB has declined to mention the exact exchanges affected by its latest move, it’s worth noting that Binance has come under increased scrutiny in the country in recent months, with the exchange delisting several AUD pairs last May.
As part of efforts to tackle crypto crimes within its shores, last February, Aussie authorities announced plans to expand the Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s (ASIC) digital assets team and boost enforcement measures.