Crypto assets made safer for consumers: Treasurer

Treasurer Jim Chalmers has announced the Government will move to increase regulation of crypto assets to better protect consumers and “future‑proof” regulatory frameworks.

The Government has announced a multi-stage approach which will include strengthening enforcement, bolstering consumer protection, and establishing a framework for reform.

The move will see a staffing boost to the crypto team at the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), as well as giving the regulator increased powers to take legal action where crypto offerings were marketed without the appropriate credit or financial services licence.

At the same time, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) will step up its efforts to prevent scams, notably including those involving crypto assets, while the Government’s National Anti-Scams Centre, located within the ACCC, will be equipped to facilitate real-time data sharing and coordinated prevention of scams.

As a part of its move to bolster consumer protections, the Government has announced it will reform the licensing and custody of crypto assets, with a greater focus on a subset of crypto assets currently not covered by the financial services regulatory framework.

“We will establish a set of obligations and operational standards for crypto asset service providers to ensure they adequately safe‑keep assets for customers,” the Minister said.

“This will ensure consumers are protected from avoidable business failures or from the misuse of their assets by service providers.”

The Minister also stressed an increased need to understand the risks and opportunities crypto poses for the future.

To this end, the Treasurer has announced a release of a consultation paper to explore, in detail, which elements of the crypto ecosystem would need additional attention and are not sufficiently regulated under the existing framework.

The Government said the consultation will enable it and stakeholders to identify regulatory gaps and ensure that emerging risks are identified and controlled.