Australia Introduces Cryptocurrency Exchange Regulations

  • Australian cryptocurrency exchanges will need to register and report to AUSTRAC
  • The new regulations are already in effect. Failure to comply will lead to "civil penalty consequences."

Australia has just implemented new regulatory obligations cryptocurrency exchanges will need to comply with. A recent announcement published by the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) reveals the regulator is pushing against money laundering and seeking to bring forward counter-measures agaisnt terror financing. 

The announcement comes a week after the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) revealed it was seeking public consultation from citizens regarding how it should approach "specific tax events." Specifically, the ATO was looking for the public's views on cryptocurrency taxation, as it "launched a community consultation to help us understand practical issues experienced when complying with cryptocurrency tax obligations.”

According to AUSTRAC, cryptocurrency exchanges will now need to:

  • Adopt and maintain an AML/CTF program to identify, mitigate and manage money laundering and terrorism financing risks
  • Identify and verify the identities of their customers
  • Report to AUSTRAC suspicious matters, and transactions involving physical currency of $10,000 or more
  • Keep certain records for a period of seven years.

The legislation has been in effect for cryptocurrency exchanges since April 3, for a trial period of six months, which will help measure their success and relative impact on the market for users. During the six-month trial period, AUSTRAC CEO will only take action if exchanges don't take "reasonable steps" to comply.

At the end of its announcement, AUSTRAC notd:

"There will be criminal offence and civil penalty consequences if you provide digital currency exchange services without being registered."

AUSTRAC

Cryptocurrency exchanges are being urged to register, presumably to improve their level of accountability within the marketplace. Australia is also incorporating 'transitional registration arrangements' for crypto exchanges, which will come into effect on May 14. These arrangements will allow existing exchanges to continue trading, while transactions and applications are screened for legitimacy.

Could President Trump Ban Bitcoin? Experts Weigh In

  • Experts weigh in on the possibility of President Trump banning bitcoin.
  • Increasing concern over libra and large platform digital currencies is driving political agenda. 

Following last week’s attack on bitcoin and Facebook’s libra, experts have voiced their opinion on whether US President Donald Trump could realistically impose a ban on cryptocurrency. 

Not a Fan of Bitcoin

On July 11, President Donald Trump published a series of tweets attacking bitcoin and digital currencies, while championing the dollar. 

President Trump’s comments come in the midst of growing concern over Facebook’s libra, as political regulators around the world scramble to enact policies to deal with the rise of digital currencies. 

Members of the crypto community have questioned the impact of the US President taking an unfavorable stance towards bitcoin. Some crypto pundits predicted the tweets would be good for the price of BTC and ultimately increase exposure to cryptoassets. However, others worry that political influence may lead to a crackdown on cryptocurrency usage. 

Scenarios for Banning Crypto

Alex Kruger, economist and market analyst, published a tweet thread examining the legality and possibility of President Trump banning bitcoin. 

According to Kruger, It would be almost impossible for the US government to outlaw bitcoin as a technological instrument. Aside from the Herculean task of eradicating a decentralized, digital technology, bitcoin is code, which is protected under the first amendment.

However, that same protection is not extended to third-party operators, including cryptocurrency exchanges. 

Kruger quoted Abra CEO and Founder BIll Barhydt, who explained in a Forbes article how the government could target fiat onramps to exchanges, 

“You can’t prevent people from holding ones and zeroes on a device in their pocket. That ship has sailed. We already know that. The question is: What can they do at the edge of the network -- the onramps and offramps, the places where they exert control over the banking system, the exchanges, [and the] stablecoins.”

The US government could prevent retail investors from having access to crypto-assets through exchanges and prevent banks from allowing transfer of funds. Users would still be able to buy crypto through alternative channels, but the current ease of investing would be severely hampered. 

Unlikely, But Not Impossible

President Trump could also issue an executive order banning citizens from dealing in bitcoin, similar to the one he issued against the Petro. While there is a precedent for this route, Kruger claims the order could be easily overturned by Congress, 

Ultimately, Kruger believes that it is unlikley the President or Congress would move to ban bitcoin, and it would be difficult to enact fool-proof policy. However, it's worth considering the political landscape as regulatory concerns mount over Facebook's libra.

Just last week, a copy of a bill reportedly drafted by the House Financial Services Committee surfaced online, under the title "Keep Big Tech Out of Finance." The bill would put an end to Facebook and other large platforms from issuing digital currencies without incurring a severe penalty.

The same could be extended to bitcoin in the event the government finds crypto-assets no longer tolerable for the general public.