Australian Government Prepares for Virtual Crypto Stocktake Ahead of Plans for Sector Regulation

The Department of the Treasury will undertake "token mapping", as a first step to identifying which cryptocurrency assets to regulate, and how.

Australian Government Prepares for Virtual Crypto Stocktake Ahead of Plans for Sector Regulation

Australia said on Monday it would do a virtual stocktake of the country's cryptocurrency holdings

Highlights
  • Australia would be first country in the world to conduct such exercise
  • Australia has wrestled for years with the question
  • Calls for intervention have increased since 2020

Australia said on Monday it would do a virtual stocktake of the country's cryptocurrency holdings, the first signal from the new centre-left government that it plans to regulate the $1 trillion (roughly Rs. 79,86,850 crore) sector.

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

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

"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.

Australia has wrestled for years with the question of how to regulate cryptocurrency - money that is regulated by decentralised computer networks, rather than central banks.

Calls for intervention have increased since 2020 when COVID-19 stimulus payments and home working prompted a surge in the sector's popularity.

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

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission has also said it wants the sector regulated, citing its research that found 44 percent of retail investors held cryptocurrency in late 2021.

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

Last month, it was reported that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) was undertaking a trial that aims to take down scam websites targeting the crypto community there.

Netcraft, a UK-based Internet services company has been roped in by the ACCC to provide the countermeasures service to identify questionable and suspicious websites for the take down. The new trial also sees the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) joining it as a partner with the ACCC.


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