Westpac arms itself for cryptocurrency tilt

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Westpac has given a clear indication of its intent to enter the cryptocurrency and blockchain space, having previously been tight-lipped as to its ambitions.

The bank posted an open call for a principal architect for digital assets and cryptocurrency in recent weeks, from which it is clear that Westpac wants to set itself up as a leader in what is is collectively calling “digital assets”.

Westpac describes its digital assets business as “emerging” but states it has a “goal of entering the market and achieving a leadership position.”

It is looking for an architect that can “translate emerging trends from the cryptocurrency and digital assets world into the opportunities for Westpac and our customers”.

However, more critically, the architect will be responsible for “developing and maintaining the strategic technology roadmap for digital assets, cryptocurrency and blockchain technologies” – suggesting the bank will move beyond a simple experimental phase.

Westpac has only previously told iTnews that it was “reviewing” the space.

It still does not offer “digital assets” to customers, but chief technology officer David Walker told iTnews that it is “committed to providing our customers with choice and convenience and we continually review how we help our customers with their banking needs.”

“We have been exploring blockchain technologies for some time, recognising the benefits it could have not only for customers, but for streamlining parts of the wider financial system as well,” Walker told iTnews.

“We are continuing to work with industry partners, including regulators, government and banking peers, on what this could look like.

“Ensuring the safety and security of our customers remains a critical consideration with the use of this technology.”

If Westpac pushes forward with its own blockchain and cryptocurrency plays, it will join the rest of the major banks, which are already developing the technology.

NAB is working towards its own stablecoin, a type of cryptocurrency tied to a commodity or currency, while ANZ launched its own A$DC cryptocurrency in late June.

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia also was gearing up to launch its own cryptocurrency assets trading platform via its CommBank app, before pausing the rollout in May this year as the broader cryptocurrency market faltered.