The Australian government has introduced legislation in mid-August 2017 that will regulate virtual currency exchanges in the country.

The bill forms part of the plan by the government to strengthen the country’s Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act and bolster the authority of the Australian Transactions and Reporting Analysis Centre (Austrac).

In its announcement, the coalition government said that the bill will empower Austrac to regulate cryptocurrency exchanges in the country.

Austrac is a financial intelligence agency which is responsible for implementing the country’s anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-terrorism financing (CTF) regulations:

“The bill provides a net regulatory relief to industry of $36 mln annually, with the digital currency exchange sector being regulated for the first time, while deregulating low-risk industries such as cash-in-transit, which is already subject to state and territory licensing requirements.”

Other global efforts to regulate digital currency exchanges

Australia is just one of the countries worldwide to regulate cryptocurrencies and prevent money laundering in their jurisdictions.

In Japan, the government has approved Bitcoin as a form of payment across the country in April 2017.

The government has also implemented tough rules on Bitcoin exchanges to comply with the country’s AML and Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements.

In China, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) has conducted probes on the operation of Bitcoin exchanges in the country. These investigations prompted the exchanges to stop Bitcoin withdrawals and upgraded their systems to comply with the AML and KYC requirements.

In the EU, governments have been discussing the imposition of rules and regulations covering Bitcoin exchanges as part of the region’s Fourth Anti-Money Laundering Directive.

Other cryptocurrency developments in Australia

Meanwhile, several Australian lawmakers and government officials have expressed their opposition to the adoption of digital currencies.

Among them is leftist opposition leader Bill Shorten, who wants to stop the use of digital currencies, including Bitcoin, because they could be exploited by terrorists.

Two senators, however, proposed that Bitcoin should be adopted as the country’s official currency to bolster its financial competitiveness.