Australian regulator provides guidance for crypto-asset products

FILE PHOTO: A representation of the virtual cryptocurrency Bitcoin
FILE PHOTO: A representation of the virtual cryptocurrency Bitcoin is seen in this picture illustration taken October 19, 2021. REUTERS/Edgar Su

October 29, 2021

(Reuters) – Australia’s corporate watchdog said on Friday that holders of underlying crypto-asset investment products would need a licence, as part of a new set of guidances it hopes would improve transparency and protect investors.

Many of Australia’s top financial institutions have not engaged with the high-risk cryptocurrency sector despite its huge growth in the past year.

A senate report called on Australia to introduce new laws such as tax discounts and a licensing regime for digital asset miners to be more competitive with other countries in the fast-growing space.

Australia’s Securities and Investments Commision (ASIC) has introduced a new “crypto-asset” section in its licensing applications that holders of underlying assets that comprise crypto-asset will need.

“Crypto-assets have unique characteristics and risks that must be considered by product issuers and market operators in meeting their existing regulatory obligations,” ASIC Commissioner Cathie Armour said.

Estimates of the size of the digital asset industry in Australia vary. One researcher says a sixth of Australians owned cryptocurrency in 2021 worth A$8 billion ($6.02 billion), with bitcoin the most popular.

The ASIC also provided guidance on best practices for monitoring, holding and prices crypto-assets as well as disclosure and risk management.

($1 = 1.3284 Australian dollars)

(Reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru)