ASIC update: Initial coin offerings and cryptocurrency

A speech by John Price, Commissioner, Australian Securities and Investments Commission, Tyro FinTech Hub – Events Space
(Sydney, Australia), 26 April 2018

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Thank you all for coming along tonight – I know the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) and the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) will agree that it’s fantastic to have both technology developers and industry in the room tonight, as well as others from the sector.

I want to say thank you to our host Tyro FinTech Hub for providing the venue. And I also want to thank Adriana Belotti and Jason Williams from the Sydney Blockchain Professionals Meetup group and Kim Heras of the Sydney Fintech Startups Meetup group for helping us coordinate this event and get the word out to your group members.

I wanted to begin by highlighting that building trust is a key challenge we all face in promoting fintech.

This includes building trust in the infrastructure, as those working on blockchain solutions are well aware, as well as trust in people.

Scams are corrosive when it comes to building any form of trust, and we all have a role to play in making sure they don’t happen.

Tonight, I’ll be focusing on how ASIC is engaging with initial coin offerings (ICOs) and cryptocurrencies – including resources we have developed to assist you, how best to engage with us and a few things we want everyone to be very mindful of regarding misleading or otherwise inappropriate activity.

Firstly, as we have a few regulators in the room tonight, I’ll spend a moment explaining where ASIC fits into Australia’s financial regulatory framework.

ASIC is Australia’s corporate, markets and financial services regulator.

We contribute to Australia’s economic reputation and wellbeing by ensuring that Australia’s financial markets are fair and efficient, supported by confident and informed investors and consumers.

We are determined – as are you – to see Australia’s innovative fintech and regtech flourish in the right regulatory environment, and that means maintaining an open mind when it comes to new technologies and ‘early-days’ business models.

But – and this is an important 'but' – ASIC must be focused on both protecting Australian consumers and facilitating innovation across the financial services industry.

When it comes to cryptocurrencies and our engagement with ICOs, this position is no different and we believe that this aligns with the industry’s interests to build a more mature sector that can sustain longer term public confidence.

If you are acting with someone else’s money, or selling something to someone, you have obligations placed upon you.

This includes when individuals seek to raise funds via the issuance of digital tokens or coins.

These obligations will depend on the precise nature of the undertaking, and the type of token issued. But, whatever the structure, there is a basic obligation not to mislead or deceive through any offers or marketing.

Read the full speech (PDF 127KB)

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Last updated: 23/05/2018 05:20