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澳大利亚:加密货币市场与监管概览

随着加密货币使用量增加,越来越多的人开始进入这个市场,世界各地政府和监管机构也对此越来越有兴趣。G20峰会对如何将这种去中心化的金融体系融入当今的全球社会进行了深入讨论,至此,围绕这个话题的争论也进入了高潮。一个国家应在实际行动中打造适合自己的道路,而不是在观望中徘徊不前。

澳大利亚对于加密货币的监管态度积极并且直接,比如澳大利亚目前已经在实施一些诸如外汇登记的计划。然而,澳大利亚政府关于加密货币的监管并不是那么常规,这或许可以被视作澳大利亚在加密货币领域的一种进步,对国家本身和加密货币行业都是一种潜在的提升。

澳大利亚市场

澳大利亚可能不是比特币或其他加密货币最大的市场之一,但它的确是一个不断增长的加密货币市场。按照目前的比特币交易量来看,澳大利亚在全球范围内排名第14位。在本文发表之时(译者注:GMT+8 2018/4/6 5:35 A.M.)的24小时内,澳元(AUD)的交易量为2,810,190美元,约合276个BTC。

从交易量的角度来看,日本占据了主导地位,近60%,24小时内的交易量约为301404个比特币。与日本相比,澳大利亚的加密货币市场活动相形见绌,但从全球范围内,澳大利亚也是个主要的参与者。

交易规则和牌照

4月11日,澳大利亚政府通过澳大利亚交易报告和分析中心(AUSTRAC)宣布了实施加密货币交易新规则的计划。声明中写到:

数字货币交易(DCE)如果要在澳大利亚进行商业运作就必须在澳大利亚注册,符合政府的反洗钱(AML)/反恐融资(CTF)的合规和报告义务。

目前,AUSTRAC已经向三家交易所颁发了许可证,总部位于墨尔本的BTC Markets是第一家。位于悉尼的Independent Reserve也获得了澳大利亚数字商务协会(ADCA)的支持。此外,AUSTRAC还为其他的交易所设定了以5月14日为截止日的申请期限。

另一家位于墨尔本的交易所——Blockbid成为第三家获得AUSTRAC许可的交易所。目前Blockbid即将进行Beta测试,预计平台将于2019年全面启动。

与其他政府对待加密货币的监管态度一样,澳大利亚政府也是从加密货币的匿名性和全球性角度出发,希望通过监管防止通过加密货币来洗钱和进行恐怖主义融资。此外该报告还指出,监管同样也将有助于增强公众和消费者对该行业的信心。

这是澳大利亚在该国监管加密货币的关键所在。澳大利亚正在努力保护公民、保护金融部门,同时也在努力发展和吸收这项技术。

澳大利亚最近的这一举动表明,政府正试图介入并控制本国的加密货币。这些许可证可能是监管加密货币的切实依据,澳大利亚许了数字货币一个美好的未来。

真正的货币

此前澳大利亚曾效仿日本,宣布比特币和其他加密货币为法定货币。2016年3月,日本宣布将比特币作为法定货币,而澳大利亚则在2017年7月1日宣布了这一决定。

税务

随着人们对数字货币的兴趣上升,澳大利亚监管机构对加密货币的认识也在不断增加。2017年9月20日,澳大利亚宣布取消他们关于数字货币双重征税的法律。根据澳大利亚商品和服务税(GST)的规定,该法案终止了对比特币和其他加密货币的购买进行征税的做法。

澳大利亚税务局已采取切实的措施来管理和控制加密货币交易纳税的增长和支出。

这些步骤包括澳大利亚税务局使用数据匹配和根据“100点标识检查”来追踪加密货币投资者的交易行为,同时包括双边税收条约和反洗钱承诺,从传统的匿名加密货币领域和市场中获取更多信息。

ICO

ICO当然也受到了关注。此前,加密货币ICO受到很多监管机构(比如美国的证券交易所)的严厉批评。而中国早在2017年9月就禁止了ICO。在中国采取行动后不久,2017年10月,澳大利亚证券和投资委员会(ASIC)推出了自己的ICO指南。

澳大利亚证券和投资委员会的指导方针在法律层面阐述了ICO的使用。该机构人为,ICO的使用与其代币本质结构有关,也就是说代币的销售分类是参照澳大利亚消费者法律的规定的。澳大利亚国家公司法案规定,ICO架构的公司不得提供金融产品。

“泡沫”

显然,加密货币监管法案对澳大利亚政府是有益的,因为其正在积极打击洗钱和恐怖主义融资,但其实加密货币企业和利用加密货币的不同行业同样也能从中受益。更重要的是,这种程度的监管对加密货币本身有着巨大的影响。

随着参与加密货币交易的人数的增加,大众媒体的吸引力、炒作以及各种社会力量推动推动,未来会有越来越多的人关注加密货币,并就此产生更多的观点和看法。

福布斯专栏作者、澳大利亚加密货币作者James Nguyen表示,关于比特币是泡沫的说法从未间断,澳大利亚的这些举动实际上可能证明了这一点。

政府有责任保护其成员,通过修改立法,将加密货币纳入其中,而不是禁止加密货币。这表明,除了市场当前的繁荣之外,澳大利亚政府也相信这一资产类别能拥有一个更加美好的未来。

良好的发展环境

银行经常试图降低比特币的使用,因为银行担心这些比特币的使用会影响他们的业务,于是就使用监管作为他们的武器。

如果加密货币的使用成为主流被采纳,很多人认为有可能发生的金融革命就真的发生了,假如加密货币能够在法律指导下运作,加密货币将走得更远。

Dash公司的首席执行官Ryan Taylor认为,加密货币行业目前正渴望加密货币的监管,而澳大利亚的交易所现在也有指导方针可以遵循,因此曾经猜测的市场混乱估计短期内并不会出现。

澳大利亚当局通过指定加密货币交易所需要参与的具体监管机构,提供了更多监管的确定性。随着澳大利亚加密货币市场向这个新的监管体制过渡,接下来的6个月将会发生什么,我们拭目以待。

The very nature of cryptocurrencies dictate that regulation, control, and by extension, a centralized system, do not fit in with what they stand for. They are supposed to be totally decentralized, and therefore not dictated by many rules.

This made a lot of sense when cryptocurrencies were not in the spotlight, and not a major factor on the world stage. However, as mainstream adoption has increased, and more individuals have entered the market, so has the interest from governments and regulators around the world.

This has culminated with the G20 summit sitting down and discussing how to fit this decentralized financial system into today’s global society. However, one nation is forging its own path, not hanging around with a ‘wait-and-see’ attitude.

Australia has been very direct and positive in terms of cryptocurrency regulation and is already implementing some of its bigger plans, like exchange registration. However, their plans and rules relating to cryptocurrencies are not unreasonable, stifling, or damaging, rather, they could be viewed as progressive and potentially uplifting for both the country and cryptocurrencies in general.

Australian markets

Australia may not be one of the biggest markets for Bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrencies, but it is a growing one. As it stands, Australia is ranked 14th globally for BTC volume by currency. At time of publishing, the Australian dollar (AUD) saw volumes of AUD $2,810,190, or 276 BTC over a 24 hour period.

To put that in perspective, Japan sits on top, with a 60 percent dominance, processing 30,1404 BTC over 24 hours. Australia’s market activities pale in comparison to Japan’s, but globally, they are a rather large player.

Exchange regulation and licensing

On April 11, the Australian government, through the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC), announced tangible plans to implement new rules on cryptocurrency exchanges. The major one being that: “Digital currency exchanges (DCE), with a business operation located in Australia must now register with AUSTRAC and meet the Government’s AML [anti money laundering]/CTF [counter terrorism financing] compliance and reporting obligations,” the announcement read.

They have already licensed three exchanges - BTC Markets, in Melbourne being the first, and Sydney-based Independent Reserve being another underpinned by the Australian Digital Commerce Association (ADCA). AUSTRAC have set a deadline of May 14 for the rest of those within the country to comply.

Blockbid, another Melbourne based exchange, became the third of these exchanges to gain an AUSTRAC license, but this comes before Blockbid’s upcoming Beta launch, furthering the company’s plans to hold a full-scale launch of Blockbid in 2019.

As is often the case with governmental regulations of cryptocurrencies, the main aim is to stop money laundering and terrorism financing through cryptocurrencies because of their anonymous and global nature. However, the report states that “regulation will also help strengthen public and consumer confidence in the sector,” AUSTRAC CEO Nicole Rose commented.

That truly is the crux of Australia’s attempts to regulate cryptocurrency in the country. The country is trying to protect citizens, and financial sector, but at the same time, trying to grow and incorporate the technology.

Exchanges leading the way

This latest move by Australia to licence exchanges indicates that the government is trying to get involved and in control of cryptocurrencies in their country. These licences may be tangible evidence of cryptocurrency regulation, but Australia has built up a positive outlook on digital currencies.

Real money

Australia followed Japan in declaring Bitcoin, and other cryptocurrencies, as legal tender. Japan’s move in declaring Bitcoin as legal tender came in March 2016, while Australia followed that precedent on July 1, 2017.

Taxation

Australian regulators’ opinions on cryptocurrencies have also grown and expanded as the interest in digital currencies has taken off. On September 20, 2017, it was announced that Australia would be taking away their initial law on double taxation for the digital currency. The legal bill ended the practice of taxing the purchase of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies according to the Australian goods and services tax (GST).

ICO

Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) have also been in their sights, with this facet of the cryptocurrency space often heavily criticized by regulators, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission in the USA, and the outright ban in China, back in Sept. 2017. Soon after China’s move, In Oct. 2017, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) launched its own set of guidelines for ICOs to follow.

The guidelines state that the legal treatment for the usage of ICOs depend on the natural structure of the tokens, be they security or utility based, that is to say token sales are categorized under general Australian consumer law given, that the ICO structured company is not offering financial products, as this will be regulated under the country's Corporations Act.

Their stance was still strong, but their guidelines were at least available for ICOs to follow, letting companies deciding on going down this path where they stood depending on what type of tokens they built.

Taxation

The Australian tax office has taken tangible steps to regulate and control taxable growth and expenditure with cryptocurrencies. These steps include the Australian Tax Office (ATO) using data matching and “100-point identification checks" to track down cryptocurrency investors, as well as bilateral tax treaties and anti-money laundering commitments to get more information out of the traditionally anonymous crypto sphere and markets, proving again how thorough, and determined, they are to keep cryptocurrencies in line with their policies.

Disproving the bubble talk

It is all quite obvious why these regulations are good for the Australian government, who are fighting perceived threats of money laundering and terrorist funding, but crypto businesses and the different industries that utilize cryptocurrencies, also are benefiting. More so though, this level of regulation has massive implications for the cryptocurrencies themselves.

With the rise in adoption, mass media appeal, hype and generally a push for every day people, such as those watching Ellen DeGeneres’ show, as well as John Oliver’s, to understand cryptocurrencies, the feeling is that they won't be going away now. However, the more attention they bring also means more opinions on movements and fluctuations.

Bubble talk surrounds Bitcoin, however, such moves by Australia may actually prove it to be otherwise, this is the opinion of Australian crypto writer for Forbes, James Nguyen.

Nguyen explains how Australia has taken time and effort to build new legislation around an emerging technology. It shows, firstly, that cryptocurrencies are moving so fast that they have outgrown legacy regulations, and secondly, that Australia sees a need for active legislation on something it predicts will not go away:

“By investing resources in research and new legislation, Australia’s government shows its commitment to the perceived longevity of cryptocurrencies as it tries to answer these questions.

The government has a responsibility to protect its members and thus by amending legislation to include cryptocurrencies, rather than prohibiting them, it signals a belief of a future for the asset class beyond the market’s current exuberance.”

Good climate

Gone are the days of cowering and shunning regulations for the mere fact that they infringe on some sort of exaggerated financial liberation. Banks have often tried to bring down Bitcoin in fear of them infringing on their business, using regulation as their weapon.

If cryptocurrencies are to be mainstream and adopted, and cause the financial revolution that many believe is possible, they will go a lot further in this quest if they operate within the laws.

Ryan Taylor, CEO of Dash, a prominent cryptocurrency that has goals of being globally adopted as a speedy payment system, believes that the industry, as it stands, is hungry for cryptocurrency regulation, and with exchanges in Australia now being given guidelines, there can be no more confusion.

Dash may be based in the USA, and have a strong presence in Europe, with many master nodes based there, but positive cryptocurrency regulations play a big role globally, as digital currencies are global systems.

"These are Know Your Customer (KYC) and AML rules that we've seen in other markets, such as the United States. The positive aspect of this announcement is that Australian authorities are providing increased regulatory certainty by designating the exact regulatory body that cryptocurrency exchanges will need to engage with moving forward. It'll be interesting to see what happens over the next six months as the Australian market transitions to this new regulatory regime.”

“As an industry, we've been asking for regulatory clarity for the exchanges, and good faith in implementing these changes. This regulation seems to go in that line, but until we see how it is implemented we can't fully judge."

Although Australia is just one country, one country leading the way can set a precedent, but it is not necessarily true that others will follow. The G20 proved that when they said that they need to come to a general agreement on reguations, but Brazil indicated straight away that they will most likely not follow the G20 recommendations, when they are announced in July this year.

Arnold Spencer, Coinsource general counsel and former attorney for the US Department of Justice also sees it as a positive move emanating from one country, but is not convinced that this is the be-all and end-all.

"Australia’s new regulations reflect broader trends. Countries across the globe are increasingly monitoring businesses and their customers that buy and sell digital currencies to address money laundering concerns. Regulations like these will lead to widespread adoption.”

"Unfortunately, it’s all reactive. All these new efforts to adopt digital currency regulations are piecemeal. One country passes regulations for exchanges. Another country adopts policies for ICOs. A third country passes new tax policies. But no one seems to have a comprehensive, forward-thinking digital currency strategy."

Australia has decided that there is a lot of potential in cryptocurrency.  By encompassing Blockchain, as well as financial upgrades with digital tokens, they are setting themselves up almost as a ‘first-to-market’. If the Australians can get their regulations into force earlier, they can grow a system that works for them and one that will be ahead of all others who are still undecided.


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