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.

Venezuela to Use Petro Cryptocurrency to Settle Trades With Russia: Report

The government of Venezuela is reportedly planning to settle trades with Russia by using the controversial Petro (PTR) cryptocurrency. This, according to a report from Russian government-backed media outlet RT (published on May 17, 2019), which mentioned that mutual trade agreements between Venezuela and Russia may also be conducted using the ruble.

Local news sources further noted that both Russia and Venezuela are looking to settle trades without using the USD.

$100 Billion Owed To External Creditors

According to Jorge Valero Briceño, Venezuela’s Representative to the UN Office in Geneva, Switzerland, Caracas is expecting the Kremlin’s support in helping the South American nation to restructure its foreign debt. Recent estimates indicate that Venezuela is indebted to foreign creditors by approximately $100 billion.

US-led political and economic sanctions against Venezuela, particularly those which apply to the country’s oil industry, along with freezing USD accounts, put tremendous pressure on the Venezuelan economy. This, according to Briceño, who also noted that Venezuela, which notably has the world’s largest oil reserves, has been deprived of access to international financial aid and foreign direct investments (FDI) in its oil industry - due to crippling sanctions.

As confirmed in RT’s report, the citizens of Venezuela are suffering from one of the worst economic crises in the nation’s history. Extreme levels of hyperinflation, which have now exceeded 10,000,000% this year, have forced many Venezuelans to resort to desperate measures.

Cryptocurrencies Are Too Technical For Most Venezuelan Residents

As CryptoGlobe reported on May 10, 2019, Alejandro Machado, the co-founder of the Open Money Initiative (OMI), a project dedicated to researching how money is used in “collapsing monetary systems,” had revealed that the majority of Venezuelans had not completely abandoned the Bolivar, the nation’s national currency.

While the Bolivar may have become worthless due to hyperinflation, Machado said that most people in Venezuela were still using the Bolivar because they had to, in order “to survive.”

While Machado acknowledged that bitcoin's trading volumes in Venezuela had surged to all-time highs, mainly on LocalBitcoins, he pointed out that most of the nation’s residents are not able to use cryptocurrencies due to their highly technical nature.

No Evidence Of Petro Being Used

An extensive report from Reuters revealed last year that there was “no evidence” of the Petro being used, domestically or internationally, to settle transactions.

Cabinet Minister Hugbel Roa claimed in late August 2018: “Nobody has been able to make use of the petro ... nor have any resources been received.” This, as the Petro cryptocurrency was still in its development stages, Roa said.

However, a local crypto trader had explained that it was not practical to use the Petro for daily transactions because “there is no way to link prices or exchange rates to a token that doesn’t trade."