Australia’s Financial Watchdog Will Monitor Bitcoin Exchanges

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AUSTRAC, Australia’s financial intelligence and watchdog, will now monitor bitcoin exchanges following newly passed legislation.

Under new legislation passed by the Australian Senate on Thursday, bitcoin exchanges will now be required to register on the ‘Digital Currency Exchange Register’ maintained by the Australian Transactions and Reporting Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC).

The legislation, which prioritizes the regulation of digital currency exchange operators, is a part of a wider reform of the government’s anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing (AML/CTF) laws.

As revealed by industry group FinTech Australia, the amended rules will mandate bitcoin exchanges to implement measures to identify and mitigate money laundering and terrorism financing risks while following KYC norms to identify their users. Exchanges are also required to report any suspicious transactions, international transactions and fiat cash deposits that exceed AU$10,000.

FinTech Australia chief executive Danielle Szetho revealed the government had collaborated with the country’s fintech sector to develop the newly enforced legislation, stating:

Now it is in place, the legislation will help bring further legitimacy to exchanges operating in Australia, unlocking the benefits of digital currency usage and trading whilst ensuring this is done in an appropriate way.

“This will stamp out fraud and allow innovation to flourish; a bold move that will benefit Australians for years to come,” added Paul McKenzie, operations manager at Victoria-based digital currency exchange ACX.io.

As reported in October, the new legislation will also bestow enhanced powers to AUSTRAC’s chief executive, enabling the official to “make rules to expand or narrow the scope of the digital currency definition.”

The bill follows another noteworthy piece of legislation in October when the Australian Parliament passed the bill to put an end to the double taxation of transactions involving cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. The amended law now deems bitcoin and digital currencies as the equivalent of a “foreign currency”, under applicable GST treatment.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

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