Australia’s primary securities regulator is focusing efforts to keep a close eye on the cryptocurrency sector, including ICOs, as part its corporate action plan for 2018-19.
Having stressed in April that it would keep an “open mind” to cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings (ICOs) domestically, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) pinned harmful threats from the sector as its first “focus area” to be monitored in its corporate plan for 2018-2022, released [PDF] on Friday.
Specifically, the ASIC is launching a new project focused on the usage and prevalence of cryptocurrencies across industries. For crypto exchanges, the regulator said it would devise a policy for “applying the principles for regulating market infrastructure providers to crypto exchanges.” This would, in essence, bring the crypto exchange sector under the same scrutiny of traditional stock exchanges and financial market operators.
The regulator added:
“We will continue to focus on monitoring threats of harm from emerging products (e.g. ICOs and crypto currencies), cyber resilience, the adequate management of technological solutions by firms and markets, and misconduct that is facilitated by or through digital and/or cyber-based mechanisms.”
Earlier in May, the ASIC revealed its scrutiny into ICO issuers with a public notice to reveal it had spotted “misleading or deceptive” marketing statements. ““As a result of our inquiries, some issuers have halted their ICO or have indicated the ICO structure will be modified,” the ASIC said at the time.
Domestic cryptocurrency exchanges are already regulated under the purview of the Australian Transactions and Reporting Analysis Center (AUSTRAC), the country’s financial intelligence agency and watchdog.
Exchange operators are required to enroll in the authority’s ‘Digital Currency Exchange Register’ while complying with mandatory anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing (AML/CTF) obligations alongside know your customer (KYC) requirements.
Prior to the regulation – legislated into effect in April this year – Australia’s Senate enacted rules that allowed AUSTRAC to monitor domestic crypto exchanges in December 2017.