Australia Will Regulate Bitcoin Exchanges Under AML Laws

The Australian government is looking to update its anti-money laundering laws to include bitcoin and other digital currency exchanges.

 

According to a consultation document published this week by the Australian Attorney-General’s Department, the government wants to begin drafting legislative proposals by the middle of next year. The goal is to begin finalizing that legislation in 2018.

To get there, the government is soliciting public comment on the proposal, which comes amid a broader push to revise the country's money laundering laws, between now and the end of 2017. For now, the proposal is in an early stage, with relatively few details available as to how the legislation might be drafted or what kinds of companies beyond exchange services would be covered.

The agency wrote:

“The AML/CTF Act should be amended to regulate activities relating to convertible digital currency, particularly activities undertaken by digital currency exchange providers.”

The proposed plan was released months after the Australian government released a broad policy statement on fintech, which included proposals to reduce the tax burden on bitcoin activity in the country and explore other legislative options related to the technology. At the time, the Australian Treasury indicated support for “a high-level guiding legislative framework” to govern how the country’s financial industry would integrate blockchain tech.

It also aligns with recommendations from the Australian Senate earlier this year, which called for such a move.

The plan comes as Australia’s private sector explores a range of blockchain applications, from trade finance to digital identity.