Players in Australia’s digital currency ecosystem would have to wait for at least one more year before seeing a robust legal framework to govern the sector, reports the Australian Financial Review.
Internal documents from the Australian Treasury Department suggest 2024 as a potential timeline for new rules to be launched, but there are concerns that the delay could cause a tsunami of industry discontent. According to the documents, the government remains keen on adopting a careful approach with its regulatory plans to avoid clamping down on innovation.
Per the report, consultation papers will be made public in Q2, while the government will conduct a stakeholder roundtable discussion about custody in Q3. The internal documents were made public under Australia’s freedom of information laws which gives individuals the right to access documents held by government agencies.
“Treasury expects some stakeholders to be disappointed with the perceived delay in implementing a licensing regime,” Australian Treasurer Jim Chalmers said. “For example, consumer groups seeking immediate protections and businesses seeking regulatory legitimacy.”
Despite the mounting concerns, Australia’s government believes that the large-scale implosions that rocked the industry in 2022 may have dampened the demand for digital currency. This “weakened demand” will allow the government and its agencies with a healthy time frame to craft new laws for the industry.
Australian consumers have come under increasing attack from digital currency scammers, with a recent report pegging losses at over 200 million in 2022 alone. The scammers are buoyed by Australia’s wealthy population and the seeming reluctance of security agencies to mount a full-scale investigation into scamming activities.
Little drops make an ocean
Australian agencies have been making some progress against digital currency scammers since 2022, beginning with the creation of a “crypto policy unit” within the Treasury. In November, the unit reeled out suggestions for issuing digital currency licenses, including the due diligence for board members of applying firms and improved reporting requirements.
A token mapping exercise is being conducted by the Treasury and is widely expected to provide clarity to the financial regulator on the best way to police the sector. There are plans to create a nationwide sensitization program against digital currency fraud spearheaded by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the National Anti-Scams Centre.
To protect consumers, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) announced that it would be increasing the size of its digital asset monitoring unit while promising increased enforcement action against defaulting individuals and entities.
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