Crypto currency: Australia to do a virtual stocktake

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Crypto currency: Australia to do a virtual stocktake
Crypto currency: Australia to do a virtual stocktake

Treasurer Jim Chalmers said, as a first step to identifying which crypto currency assets to regulate, and how, his department would undertake “token mapping”, or cataloging the types and uses of digital currency owned within the country

On Monday, Australia said it would do a virtual stocktake of the country’s crypto currency holdings, the first signal from the new centre-left government that it plans to regulate the $1 trillion sector.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers said, as a first step to identifying which crypto currency assets to regulate, and how, his department would undertake “token mapping”, or cataloging the types and uses of digital currency owned within the country.

He added, Australia would be the first country in the world to conduct such an exercise.

“With the increasingly widespread proliferation of crypto assets, to the extent that crypto advertisements can be seen plastered all over big sporting events, we need to make sure customers engaging with crypto are adequately informed and protected,” Chalmers said.

For years, Australia has wrestled with the question of how to regulate crypto currency – money that is regulated by decentralised computer networks, rather than central banks.

Since 2020 when COVID-19 stimulus payments and home working prompted a surge in the sector’s popularity, calls for intervention have increased.

To protect crypto currency owners, last year, a Senate inquiry under the previous conservative government recommended wide-ranging regulations, but that administration lost an election this May before any new laws were put in place.

Citing its research that found 44% of retail investors held crypto currency in late 2021, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission has also said it wants the sector regulated.

Chalmers, the treasurer, said the token mapping exercise would be “the first step in a reform agenda”, but did not specify any planned regulations on Monday.

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