By Kevin Helms
The chairman of Australia’s Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) says crypto is “being driven by extraordinary consumer and investor demand,” noting that “The implications for consumers are potentially huge.” The securities regulator is currently working with lawmakers to develop rules for cryptocurrencies.
Regulator Sees ‘Extraordinary Consumer and Investor Demand’ for Crypto
Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) Chair Joe Longo talked about cryptocurrency at the Australian Financial Review’s Super & Wealth Summit Monday.
“Consumers should approach investing in crypto with great caution,” he said, emphasizing its lack of investor protection. However, Longo opined:
Crypto is on our doorstep, here and now, and being driven by extraordinary consumer and investor demand. The implications for consumers are potentially huge.
While noting that the securities regulator is working with lawmakers to develop rules for cryptocurrencies, he stressed that many crypto assets are currently unregulated so investors are on their own when investing in them.
“At present many crypto assets are probably not financial products,” he explained. “ASIC has already provided some guidance on exchange-traded funds linked to crypto assets — they at least are financial products, and traded on a licensed exchange, so there will be some protection there.”
Nonetheless, the ASIC chief cautioned:
For the most part, for now at least, investors are on their own.
Earlier this month, Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA or Commbank), the country’s largest bank, announced that it will start allowing some clients to buy, sell, and hold cryptocurrencies directly using its app. This pilot program is in partnership with cryptocurrency exchange Gemini.
The bank’s CEO subsequently said that although there are risks in participating in crypto, there are bigger risks in not participating.
The ASIC chairman noted:
The fact Australia’s largest bank is already proposing a means of crypto exposure for its retail customers is telling. Yes, it’s only a pilot project, but the overall direction is clear. This debate is no longer on the fringes of the financial services industry.
At the same conference Monday, the Liberal Party Senator for Victoria, Jane Hume, also spoke about cryptocurrency. She said we must acknowledge that crypto is not a fad, adding that decentralized finance (defi) presents huge opportunities.
What do you think about the Australian securities regulator’s comments? Let us know in the comments section below.