Recently, a new bill targeting cryptocurrency services has been brought into the Australian Parliament. Reportedly, the proposed bill addresses consumer protection and promotes investments.
Sources reveal that Senator Andrew Bragg from New South Wales introduced a private bill titled Digital Assets (Market Regulation) Bill 2023. The bill aims to “protect consumers and promote investors,” and includes regulatory recommendations for stablecoins, licensing of exchanges, and custody requirements.
While most of the bills are introduced by government ministers in Australia, other members of the parliament can introduce their own bills, known as private members’ or private senators’ bills. It may take months or even years for a bill to pass through Parliament.
Further Bragg gave details for the submission of the private bill and also took a jab at the current government for not following through on 12 recommendations relating to cryptocurrency regulation which was introduced by the Senate Select Committee on Australia as a Technology and Financial Centre in October 2021.
The Senator added that Australian investors have been left exposed to unfortunate industry-wide events like the collapse of the crypto exchange FTX due to the lack of clarity from the Australian government in crypto regulations. He also said:
Australia can be a digital asset hub whilst protecting digital asset consumers. But we must act now.
The proposed legislation intends to provide a regulatory framework for cryptocurrency exchanges, custody services, and stablecoin issuers while protecting consumers and promoting investment. Additionally, it looks to provide guidelines for reporting information by authorized deposit-taking institutions for the issuance and control of a central bank digital currency (CBDC).
If the bill passed in the parliament, it would mandate a person or business to hold a license authorized by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) or a foreign license to operate a cryptocurrency exchange.
The proposed legislation also has clauses for crypto custody services and stablecoin issuers in Australia. It sets out various obligations and requirements for exchanges, custody services, and stablecoin issuers ranging from capital or minimum reserve requirements, segregation of customer funds, reporting on customer holdings, and auditing, to assurance and disclosure arrangements alongside others.
Reportedly, public consultation is currently ongoing in Australia over the classification of cryptocurrencies and various digital asset tokens, services, and platforms. In February, Australia launched the “token mapping” consultation paper outlining basic definitions for the cryptocurrency sector.
Australia has been emerging as a crypto-friendly nation in recent times with a huge investor base and adequate support from the authorities. However, constant delays in legislation have frustrated investors and industry participants. A few weeks back, the government announced it could take until 2024 or beyond to release any concrete legislation for the crypto sector.