Australians are no strangers to Bitcoin. In fact, it’s possible to buy Bitcoin and Ethereum at over 1,200 newsstands thanks to cryptocurrency exchange Bitcoin.com.au. And Brisbane, one of Australia’s state capital cities, can boast the first airport that accepts a range of cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Dash, Steem, Litecoin, and Ethereum.
Despite being a country with only 24 million people, Australia is quick to develop and invest in new technologies. Their attitude towards cryptocurrencies most likely stems from their openness to innovation as well as their dissatisfaction with existing banking providers.
Australians Express Dissatisfaction With Existing Banking Providers
In a free market, consumers often have power and choice when it comes to purchasing decisions. However, it is rather the inverse when it comes to the Australian banking industry. The Big Four banks hold a strong monopoly over the market, limiting the choice and power consumers have over their banking decisions.
According to KPMG, for the 2016-2017 financial year, the Australian Big Four banks made a combined $31.5 billion in profit. “The Big Four banks make more than $1,460 profit from every man, woman, and child in Australia,” said David Richardson, a senior research fellow at the Australian Institute. “They argue that these profits flow largely to mums and dads with superannuation, but our analysis calculates that the average superannuant gets just $142 per annum while most Australians get nothing.”
Unfortunately, there is a clear misalignment of goals. Executive officers at banking corporations work towards maximizing profits for their shareholders. However, when profits become the number one priority, it is counterintuitive to invest excess revenue into further services and value generating opportunities to consumers, especially in a market where consumers need banks, and there are not many differences between competitors.
Cryptocurrency Offers Decentralization Benefits
The emerging cryptocurrency industry, on the other hand, offers a refreshing new approach to finance and money. Cryptocurrencies are decentralized, and they allocate rewards to miners accordingly unlike banking incumbents that profit significantly while providing minimal tangible value.
Cryptocurrencies also offer Australian consumers a greater variety of options and providers when it comes to financial services. Transaction processing fees are often smaller (except when demand is crazy high), and one can also trade on holidays and weekends.
“Financial sovereignty is an essential part of my livelihood,” said Temuge Namjilsuren, an Australian cryptocurrency enthusiast, in an interview with Crypto Briefing. “However, with the existing banking system, I feel dissatisfied because I lack control and the bank’s goal is to serve their shareholders, not me. In contrast, cryptocurrencies are independent, and by participating, I feel as though I am taking part in a decentralized global movement free of financial intermediaries.”
Australia Is Open to Innovation
Although Australia only became an independent nation just over a century ago in 1901, Australians are frequently found at the frontier of innovation.
The refrigerator, penicillin, WiFi technology, the Cochlear ear implant, and Google Maps are just some of the innovations that Australians have developed. Recently in 2017, the Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull pledged $100 million to position Australia as an Innovation Nation moving forward. “Innovation is creating the jobs of tomorrow,” said Michaelia Cash, the Minister for Jobs and Innovation. “Every Australian can benefit from and be innovative regardless of age or job, and for us to become a top-tier innovation nation, we need everyone to be involved.”
Perhaps Australia’s distance and isolation in the 1900s forced the nation to embrace new technologies and adopt an open mindset. Their attitude significantly contrasts with their Asian-Pacific neighbors like China, which appears to see cryptocurrencies as a threat than an opportunity. (Depending on the day.)
Despite the Australian government’s changing relationship with cryptocurrency taxation laws, the Australian government’s open minded approach can be seen in their recent cryptocurrency taxation announcement. On March 16, they decided to take input and feedback from the public to understand how their current cryptocurrency taxation laws affect businesses and business owners instead of simply issuing a notice.
Culturally speaking, Australia has always been a big fan of the underdog. Perhaps their obsession is derived from the fact that, Australia itself is a young, country that continues to fight for a strong voice on the world stage.
These Australian attributes very much mirror the cryptocurrency movement. Cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology are underdogs in the larger financial trillion dollar industry run by big powerful incumbents and rule makers.
While Australians may attribute their bullish attitude towards cryptocurrencies with their dissatisfaction towards the existing banking industry and openness to innovation, their underlying support comes from the Australian culture of support for the underdog.
Of course, cryptocurrencies might also prove a welcome distraction from the parlous current state of Australian cricket…