The Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) is the latest national regulator to turn its attention to cryptocurrencies, with ASIC commisioner John Price specifically focusing on ICOs during a speech at a Fintech event in Sydney yesterday.
Price stated that, in the coming weeks, ASIC will expand the scope of its guidance with regard to companies issuing tokens. Most of his comments were focused on consumer protection, and on how current laws might apply to ICOs.
“Australian Law Applies on Australian Territory”
The regulator emphasised the need to prohibit misleading and deceptive business practices in the space, especially by companies operating from overseas territories, adding further that “There exists a perception that Australian regulations don’t apply or can be avoided by engaging in an activity from overseas. I cannot stress enough that if you are doing business here and selling something to Australians – including issuing securities or tokens to Australian consumers – our laws here can apply.”
He also mentioned that traceability in relation to anti-money laundering regulations needed specific emphasis, and also highlighted the risks associated with poor information and poor governance which constitute frequent complaints within the ICO space.
While Price didn’t dwell on the economic opportunity offered by blockchain technology or decentralized business models, his overall stance was accommodative.
Australia has been the focus of a handful of successful token sales this year, including ClearPoll, a blockchain-based polling app; Havven, arguably 2018’s highest profile stable coin project; and PowerLedger, a blockchain-based green energy start-up.
Overall, it appears that ICOs operating on Australian territory are not considered a threat to traditional start-up fundraising mechanisms by statutory authorities, with analysts concurring that token sales which are conducted in an honest and transparent manner are unlikely to become the target for government rap.