Australian micro-investment startup Raiz is set to bring Bitcoin (BTC) fund options to its users, Australian Financial Review (AFR) reports on Jan. 20. The firm cleared the last legal hurdle with the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC), the country’s financial watchdog agency.
Raiz is a fintech startup offering micro-investment services to its 300,000 registered accounts. Like the United States-based Acorns and other worldwide startups, it “rounds up” the spare change from the users’ purchases to invest it in a set of investment products, generally comprising exchange traded funds (ETFs).
According to AFR sources, Raiz has been pushing to include Bitcoin in its offering, and has reportedly obtained a relief from ASIC to operate the fund. This was seemingly the last legal hurdle, paving the way for implementation in the first half of 2020.
The proposed Bitcoin retail fund is said to only allocate five percent to a direct Bitcoin exposure, with the remainder composed of ETFs.
According to December figures, Raiz has 445 million Australian dollars ($305 million) in funds under management from 211,000 paying customers.
Australia’s regulatory landscape
Regulators have in the past taken a very cautious stance to cryptocurrencies. As Cointelegraph reported in May 2019, the country’s regulators released detailed guidelines for miners, exchanges and initial coin offering projects. Specifically, it reiterated the need for cryptocurrency businesses to apply for all the relevant licenses and to adhere to its Anti-Money Laundering and Know Your Customer regulations.
Other government representatives remained skeptical of decentralized currencies. Australia’s Central Bank published a study arguing that cryptocurrencies are unlikely to replace the Australian dollar, citing primarily usability and scalability concerns.
In November, the Australian Minister of Home Affairs warned that cryptocurrencies facilitated terrorism by obfuscating their financial activities.