Australia’s new gov’t pledges world-leading digital asset regulations

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Australia wants to become a world leader in digital asset regulations, and it all starts with a comprehensive token mapping that will give the government a better understanding of the industry, the Treasurer Jim Chalmers, has stated.

“Australians are experiencing a digital revolution across all sectors of the economy, but regulation is struggling to keep pace and adapt with the crypto asset sector,” Chalmers said in a statement on August 22. The new government, led by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, will address this deficiency in regulation, striving to strike a balance between protecting investors and fostering innovation.

Albanese took over at the helm in May this year, edging out the incumbent Scott Morrison in an election whose results analysts described as “extremely complicated.”

Digital asset regulations will start with token mapping, a process the government expects to complete this year. This will “help identify how crypto assets and related services should be regulated. This hasn’t been done anywhere else in the world, so it will make Australia leaders in this work.”

The Aussie government believes that with the widespread use of digital assets in the country, it’s a critical time to formulate and implement regulations that protect investors.

According to the Australian Tax Office (ATO), at least one million taxpayers in the country have interacted with digital assets since 2018. Other surveys have put this number much higher. Finder.com ranked the country as the third-highest in the world for adoption at 17.8% last year. Australian exchange Cointree says the number of digital asset owners stands at 4.6 million, while a December survey by the Independent Reserve’s Cryptocurrency Index placed this number even higher at 29%, or 7.2 million.

Chalmers, who took over at the Treasury a few months ago, criticized the outgoing regime for prematurely jumping straight to regulatory options without first understanding what it was regulating. He added that the new Labor government would adopt a more serious approach by identifying the risks first.

“The aim will be to identify notable gaps in the regulatory framework, progress work on a licensing framework, review innovative organisational structures, look at custody obligations for third party custodians of crypto assets and provide additional consumer safeguards,” Chalmers’ statement concluded.

This approach has already received the support of some industry stakeholders. Caroline Bowler, the CEO of local exchange BTC Markets commented, “It [token mapping] will provide greater clarity to crypto investors; aid companies in developing their own blockchain-based innovations; provide guidance to digital currency exchanges; as well as assist regulators in shaping an appropriate regulatory regime.”

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