Australia's Proposed Crypto Exchange Licensing: Draft Legislation Targeted for 2024

Police & Regulations
Oct 18, 2023 at 06:15 am

In a momentous development, the Australian Treasury has set forth an ambitious blueprint to implement a groundbreaking legislative framework encompassing licensing and custody regulations for crypto asset providers by the year 2024. This forward-looking initiative is positioned to transform the crypto landscape in the region, representing a significant leap forward in the Australian government's endeavor to establish a robust and comprehensive crypto regulatory policy. This article will delve into the specifics of this innovative proposal and its potential implications for the crypto sector.

Initially slated for release in mid-2023, the proposal encountered a minor delay, making its debut in October. This comprehensive framework, distinct from a prior token mapping consultation document, is intricately designed to discern the core activities and operations of crypto products, seamlessly aligning them with existing regulatory frameworks.

At the heart of this proposal lies a meticulous focus on safeguarding consumers. Michael Bacina, a distinguished digital asset attorney and Chair of Blockchain Australia, emphasized that this approach casts a wide net, aiming to encompass a diverse array of business models that currently operate beyond the scope of regulation. Interestingly, the proposal even extends its purview to NFT marketplaces, potentially subjecting them to licensing prerequisites.

The proposal establishes transparent benchmarks for crypto exchanges seeking licensure under this regulatory paradigm. Exchanges holding over AUD 1,500 ($946) of any single client or exceeding AUD 5 million ($3.15 million) in total assets will necessitate an Australian Financial Services license issued by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. This meticulous approach ensures that exchanges maintain the highest standards of financial integrity and consumer protection.

The Treasury's proposal is inherently democratic, inviting stakeholders and interested parties to contribute their insights. The paper addresses 32 key themes, providing a comprehensive framework for discussion. Written submissions are welcomed until December 1, 2023, highlighting the government's commitment to inclusivity and transparency.

In addition to the proposal, the Treasury and the Reserve Bank of Australia have outlined a comprehensive roadmap. In mid-2024, they plan to release a joint report offering an overview of central bank digital currency (CBDC) research in Australia. This report is expected to chart the course for future work in this pivotal area. Dr. Brad Jones, Assistant Governor (Financial System) at the Reserve Bank of Australia, emphasized that this strategic decision comes after careful consideration, opting to defer CBDC decisions due to unresolved issues stemming from the pilot project.

Australia's unveiling of this comprehensive crypto regulatory framework marks a pivotal moment in the global crypto landscape. With a focus on consumer protection, inclusivity, and transparent engagement, the Australian government is taking a commendable step towards setting new standards for crypto regulation. As stakeholders engage in this critical discourse, the future of crypto in Australia looks poised for a new era of growth, stability, and legitimacy.

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