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Australia recently passed a law introducing a new set of industry guidelines for cryptocurrency exchanges in the country. In order to remain operational, exchanges must now be registered and comply with anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing laws. The regulation is part of a broader effort to combat the illicit use of cryptocurrency.

Exchanges to follow four main principles

A web page published by the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Center (AUSTRAC), the government’s financial intelligence agency, summarizes the new obligations digital currency exchanges are required to meet. In addition to registering with the agency, exchanges must:

  • adopt and maintain an anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism (AML/CTF) program
  • identify and verify users (Know Your Customer)
  • report suspicious activity and transactions of 10,000 Australian dollars or more
  • maintain certain records for seven years

According to AUSTRAC, exchanges that offer services without taking “reasonable steps” to comply with the new legislation may face criminal charges and other penalties. The government is granting a six-month grace period that will allow exchanges to continue providing services while their petition for registration undergoes the appropriate review process. Exchanges have until May 14 to submit their applications for registration.

AUSTRAC gained oversight of cryptocurrency exchanges when the Australian Senate approved the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Amendment Bill this past December.

Australia and crypto

Australia’s government has proven committed to protecting the interests of its citizens when it comes to cryptocurrency. Last year, the government put an end to the country’s double taxation of cryptocurrencies, which called for tax payment upon purchase of a cryptocurrency and again when spending it. In March, Australian Taxation Office asked taxpayers for input regarding the taxation of crypto. When the number of crypto-related scams experienced a rise this year, the govenrment alerted the public and urged caution.

Time and again, Australia has been praised for its open dialogue and forward-thinking when it comes to the treatment of cryptocurrency. Many view this new anti-money laundering legislation as one that will help dispel the negative perception of Bitcoin and ultimately propel the adoption of crypto forward.

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