Australian Regulator: Blockchain Acquisitions Could Face Scrutiny

Australian banks looking to buy up blockchain startups might face a roadblock or two.

AccessTimeIconOct 31, 2016 at 5:46 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 11, 2021 at 12:35 p.m. UTC

Australia's biggest banks might need approval for any future blockchain acquisitions, according to a key business regulator in the country.

Speaking with Reuters, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Chairman Rod Sims remarked that as domestic banks pursue opportunities in fintech including blockchain, it might spark the need for more active oversight from regulators like his agency. More specifically, the ACCC might have to get involved if major banks start buying up startups that might otherwise compete with them or other institutions.

The comments come as Australia looks to reshape its regulatory approach to fintech, with an eye on how to regulate bitcoin exchange activity in the country. Australia released a broad fintech policy outline earlier this year, calling for cooperation between private and public sector bodies as well as participation across various agencies within the government.

For now, according to Sims, the ACCC is in a wait-and-see position that could be subject to change should fintech becomes more prevalent. In the event of any proposed startup acquisitions related to the tech, the ACCC might move in to take a closer look.

He told Reuters:

"I think we need to, as an organisation, take a really close look at these things. This means making a forward-looking judgment. Will these things be disruptive in the future? They may be small now. What can they unlock in the future?"

If the ACCC is prompted to act, it wouldn't be the first time that the agency has stepped into an imbroglio involving the technology.

Last year, the ACCC waded into a dispute between Australian banks and bitcoin startups working in the country. In February, the agency declared that banks didn’t conspire against the startups, announcing that it would not open a full investigation into the matter.

Image via Shutterstock


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