“With Revolution Comes Risk”: Australia’s Securities Regulator Updates ICO And Crypto Guidelines

Australia’s Securities and Investments (ASIC) Commissioner John Price delivered a speech in which he highlighted the financial regulator’s updated guidelines for ICO and cryptocurrencies, at a Fintech event in Sydney April 26:

“The development of innovative technologies like blockchain and ICOs has the potential to revolutionize how our society engages with financial products and services, but with revolution comes risk… Scams are corrosive when it comes to building any form of trust, and we all have a role to play in making sure they don’t happen.”

Price’s speech focused on protecting Australian consumers, highlighting that Australian corporate and consumer laws apply even if an ICO is created and operated from overseas.

Last year ASIC released an information sheet providing guidance for any entity considering an ICO, potentially bringing them under Australia’s 2001 Corporations Act, depending on the type of token being offered. ICOs can be considered “managed investment schemes,” shares or derivatives offerings, or “non-cash payment facilities,” and Price also emphasized yesterday their “basic obligation not to mislead or deceive through any offers or marketing.”

Price said that it was in the crypto industry’s “interests to build a more mature sector that can sustain longer term public confidence,” adding that ASIC is currently collaborating with other domestic and international regulators to clarify a framework for cryptocurrencies “across taxation, anti-money laundering, payment systems and financial services.”

ASIC, as per Price, maintains an “open mind when it comes to new technologies and ‘early-days’ business models,” deeming that the “right regulatory environment” will allow fintech innovation to “flourish.”

Across Europe, Asia, and the US, there has been considerable regulatory momentum pertaining to the crypto sphere. ICOs are coming under particular scrutiny, as well as the need to leverage Anti-Money-Laundering (AML) measures and Know-Your-Customer (KYC) compliance across the industry. The uncertain impact of the advent of regulation is already having an effect on incoming capital, yet some investors believe regulatory clarity will prove positive in the long haul.