(Image: Mitchell Squire/Private Media)

A review into the banking industry's code of conduct has criticised the sector for systemically denying legal industries access to banking -- including sex workers, gambling, and cryptocurrency traders -- as it tried to position itself as the arbiter of moral behaviour.

The banking code of conduct applies to members of the Australian Banking Association (ABA) and is completely self-regulated. The ABA commissioned Mike Callaghan -- a former Treasury official and ex-chief of staff to Peter Costello -- to undertake the review. His final report, published recently, did not hold back, calling out the fact that all the consumer protections mentioned in the code were essentially optional.

Importantly, he rebuked the banks for what he called “blanket” denial of services seemingly based on the customer’s occupation. He said this was “without understanding the nature of the industry in which the customer operates”.