Australia: Laws Related to Token Sales, Blockchain, and Digital Proof

The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) has taken measures to regulate the cryto-currency market. Businesses providing digital currency exchange (DCE) services in Australia are regulated under the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006 (AML/CTF Act). Businesses providing exchange services to convert money (for example, Australian or US dollars) into digital currency and vice versa are required to meet AML/CTF obligations. They include:

  1. enroll and register your business with AUSTRAC
  2. adopt and maintain an AML/CTF program that reflects your business’s operations
  3. report suspicious matters and threshold transactions to AUSTRAC keep records relating to customer identification, transactions, and your AML/CTF program

Besides that, companies will have to comply with Anti Money Laundering (AML) and Counter Terrorism Financing (CTF) policies. Cryptocurrency exchanges will have to report suspicious activities and other fraudulent use of the services in case they notice it.

General regulatory framework for Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) can be found on the ASIC website.

The Australian Financial Services License (AFS) is required to conduct a financial service business. Deciding whether an entity needs an AFS Licence to operate a business utilising the Blockchain technology can be difficult. ASIC has developed an assessment tool for businesses seeking to utilise Blockchain to assist them in evaluating whether they fall under the AFS Licensing regime. The assessment tool can be found on the ASIC website. Where a business holds an AFS Licence, the business is required to register and enrol with AUSTRAC as an AFS Licensee. The business is then caught by the AML/CTF Act and Rules and corresponding obligations.

A range of ICOs and crypto-assets are available in Australia. The laws applicable to a crypto-asset or ICO may differ depending on whether the crypto-asset or ICO is (or is not) a financial product. Detailed information on regulations of ICOs can be found on the ASIC website.


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