Could interest-paying crypto accounts be coming to a CBA (ASX:CBA) branch near you?

With interest rates at historic lows, income investors are expanding their virtual horizons.

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Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX: CBA) made headline news on 3 November when it announced it would become the first Australian bank to offer crypto services to its customers.

Using CBA’s app, customers will be able to buy, sell or hold up to 10 selected cryptos including Bitcoin (CRYPTO: BTC) and Ethereum (CRYPTO: ETH).

At the time CBA CEO 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.”

CommBank is partnering with crypto exchange Gemini and blockchain analysis firm Chainalysis to roll out the new offering.

What CBA’s new crypto service doesn’t offer, yet, is the ability to earn interest on your crypto holdings.

But that may be changing.

Gemini Earn aims to come Down Under with CBA

Gemini Earn is currently only available in the United States, Singapore and Hong Kong.

So what is Gemini Earn?

According to the Gemini website, “Gemini Earn is a lending program through which you may choose to lend your crypto to certain institutional borrowers and earn interest on your crypto.”

Gemini also says, “You can receive up to 8.05% APY [annual percentage yield] on your cryptocurrency.”

In a world of ultra-low interest rates, that’s sure to generate some, erm, interest. Though it’s unclear what type of deposit protections, if any, would be in place if the product rolls out in Australia.

Most crypto holdings will pay a fair bit less than 8.05%. And the rates can change throughout the day. At the time of writing Bitcoin is paying 1.5% while Ether is paying 1.8%.

Commenting on the company’s plans to launch the service in Australia, Andy Meehan, chief compliance officer for Gemini Asia Pacific said (quoted by The Australian):

In Australia our view would be to offer the product to the retail investors. We think CBA broke the mould in your market, which is an attractive market. In fact, is it a highly developed investment market that has a long tradition of people being very quick to take up new finance technology when it arrives on the scene…

CBA has forced the regulators to move much faster than they might have naturally desired, but you’ll see every one of your banks offer crypto services very soon.

How soon?

Meehan didn’t give any specific timeframe for when Aussies can expect to earn interest from their CBA crypto accounts. He first needs to engage with Australian regulators.

CommBank share price snapshot

Despite taking a tumble from its 5 November all-time high, the CBA share price remains up 17% year to date. By comparison the S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) is up 10% for the calendar year.

Over the past month CommBank shares are down 12%.

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The Motley Fool Australia’s parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. owns shares of and has recommended Bitcoin and Ethereum. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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