Australia’s biggest bank is getting into crypto, and its ~11m customers will soon buy and sell digital assets on the Commbank app.

Commonwealth Bank (ASX:CBA) is partnering with Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss’ Gemini Exchange and blockchain analysis firm Chainanalysis to offer a crypto exchange and custody service for its Commbank users.

A pilot will roll out to 2,000 pre-selected users in the coming weeks, with more features rolled out next year.

CBA has over 11 million retail customers – more than half of all adult Australians – and 6.4 million of them use the CommBank app, which sees 8.6 million logins daily, CBA said recently.

CBA will provide customers with access to up to 10 selected crypto assets: Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, Uniswap, Chainlink, Polygon, Filecoin, Aave and Compound.

(For those new to crypto, Uniswap is the leading decentralised crypto exchange; Chainlink is a network of “oracles” used to integrate real-world data into smart contracts; Polygon is a scaling solution for Ethereum; Filecoin is a data storage network; and Aave and Compound are decentralised finance lending and borrowing protocols).

The bank wanted to let customers hold both the biggest tokens (BTC and Ether), as well as altcoins that represent different portions of the crypto market ecosystem, a representative said.

Research from CBA has found that a large number of its customers want to access crypto, with many already buying, selling and holding coins from crypto exchanges.

‘Both challenges and opportunities’

“The emergence and growing demand for digital currencies from customers creates both challenges and opportunities for the financial services sector, which has seen a significant number of new players and business models innovating in this area,” CBA chief executive Matt Comyn said.

“We believe we can play an important role in crypto to address what’s clearly a growing customer need and provide capability, security and confidence in a crypto trading platform.”

CBA made the strategic decision to partner with global leader Gemini, which has a strong track record of serving large institutions, Comyn said.

“CBA will leverage Gemini’s crypto exchange and custody service and integrate it into the CommBank app through APIs.”

Dave Abner, global head of business development at Gemini, said the exchange was proud to partner with CBA.

“The exponential growth of digital assets internationally, coupled with Gemini’s institutional-grade security and proactive regulatory approach, positions this partnership to set a new standard for banks and financial platforms in Australia and across the globe.”

Chainanalysis, which recently opened an Australian office, will bring to the partnership blockchain data analysis to help compliance teams monitor and mitigate the threat of crime through crypto-asset exchanges, CBA said.

CBA shares were up 1.2 per cent to $107.03 this morning.

‘Red-letter day’ for crypto in Oz

Melbourne-based BTC Markets chief executive Caroline Bowler called CBA’s move “exciting and inevitable”.

“It’s yet another ‘red-letter day’ for crypto and it is as though Australia has suddenly put the lead foot down,” she said.

“We have been touted as playing catch up all this while, but now we’re moving into a leadership position globally with our largest bank, and one of the most significant mainstream financial institutions in the world offering millions of customers access to cryptocurrencies.”

“I had previously earmarked in media that just because banks and bankers aren’t yet public with their engagement with cryptocurrency doesn’t mean they aren’t looking. The same goes for institutional and pension fund managers. ”

“With regulation in the offing and the largest bank in the country allowing it, the floodgates are now open for more appetite from traditional finance and smart money to move into cryptocurrencies.”

BTC Markets in September announced a partnership with neobank Volt Bank that will provide integrated banking capabilities to BTC Market’s customers using Volt’s banking-as-a-service platform.