‘I Won’t Stand In Crypto’s Way’: Australia’s Financial Services Minister

By Scott Chipolina

Jane Hume, Australia’s Financial Services Minister, has said that cryptocurrencies will grow as an asset class, and the Australian government will not stand in the way of crypto traders.

“I would like to make something clear: cryptocurrency is not a fad. It is an asset class that will grow in importance,” Hume said at the Stockbrokers and Financial Advisers Association annual conference earlier this week.

“If you want to invest in Dogecoin, I won’t stand in your way. Personal opportunity and personal responsibility are two sides of the same coin,” she said.

Dogecoin’s price—currently $0.39—has increased by about 7% in the last 24 hours but has also declined by almost 20% in the last week. Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk has largely been credited with pushing Dogecoin into the mainstream with his tweets. Research published in February by the Blockchain Research Lab showed Musk’s tweets have previously pumped Dogecoin up by 19%.

Amid calls for tighter regulation on the crypto industry, Hume took time to dismiss dubious financial advice found on social media platforms like TikTok.

“The TikTok influencer spruiking Nokia is not that different to the bloke down the pub who wants to tell you all about the really great company he just invested in,” she said.

“This isn’t financial advice, but as has been the case since taxi drivers started giving stock tips, it is an inevitable part of a financial system.”

Hume added that while professional investors might get frustrated with such advice, “at some point we have to let people make their own decisions, it’s about personal responsibility and common sense.”

Hume’s comments are in stark contrast to the tougher stances adopted by other governments on crypto trading.

Australia vs the world

In January of this year, the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) banned crypto derivatives for retail investors.

The FCA claimed that crypto-based products were “ill-suited” to retail customers because of the prevalence of financial crime, price volatility, customers’ lack of understanding, and because they lack reliable valuations.

“This ban reflects how seriously we view the potential harm to retail consumers in these products,” said interim executive director of strategy and competition Sheldon Mills in an October statement.

FCA Ban on Crypto Derivatives Comes Into Force Today

In India—where the government has been mulling a ban on crypto for months—the country’s finance minister, Anurag Thakur, told Times Now last month that the government intends to protect investors against price volatility.

Yesterday, the US struck a similar chord on investor protection. SEC chairman Gary Gensler told the 2021 FINRA Conference that “We need rules of the road and a cop on the beat to protect everyday investors.”

“Right now, there’s not a market regulator around these crypto exchanges and thus there’s really no protection around fraud or manipulation,” he added.

All of these positions are in stark disparity with Australia’s appeal to personal responsibility, but Hume also added that cryptocurrencies are subject to Australian laws on market conduct, tax, and KYC, just like any other asset class. “It is not a free pass,” she said.