The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (Austrac), the country’s financial intelligence agency, has received the go-ahead to monitor bitcoin exchanges.
The news means cryptocurrency exchanges in the country will have to register with Austrac and be placed on a dedicated register. They will also be required to set up other procedures, including countering the risks of money laundering and terrorism financing, verifying customers’ identities, and maintaining some records for seven years, a ZDNet news report indicates.
Aimed to counter illicit uses of cryptocurrencies, the announcement comes after the Australian Senate approved the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Amendment Bill 2017 on Wednesday.
According to ZDNet, FinTech Australia CEO Danielle Szetho noted that the legislation would bring “legitimacy” to exchanges operating in Australia, “unlocking the benefits of digital currency usage and trading whilst ensuring this is done in an appropriate way.”
The bill is the second notable piece of Australian legislation to be passed in the last few months.
Following the passing of another bill in the country’s parliament in October, the long controversial “double taxation” of cryptocurrencies (first when purchasing them, then later when buying items subject to the tax) finally came to an end.
The situation arose from the previous law, enacted in 2014, which treated cryptocurrencies as bartered goods for goods and services tax (GST) purposes – legislation that quickly received criticism from technology advocates who argued it hampered the industry and innovation.
Australian parliament image via Shutterstock