The Reserve Bank of Australia has told the Parliament of Australia’s Senate Economics References Committee Inquiry into Digital Currency that:
- Digital currencies are not widely used in Australia, or other developed economies;
- Although digital currencies can be used to make lawful payments between willing parties, they’re not yet legal tender in Australia;
- Given the very limited use and acceptance of digital currencies in Australia today, the Bank has no monetary policy or financial stability concerns at present. However, the Bank will continue to monitor digital currency use and if any public interest concerns arise, the Bank will consider whether it’s desirable and feasible to “designate” digital currencies, to bring the currencies themselves and/or digital currency service providers within the Australian payment services regulatory perimeter;
- “Digital currencies have the potential to raise more immediate concerns over issues relating to taxation, Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Rules and consumer protection” – areas that are outside the Bank’s expertise and responsibility.
The Committee’s terms of reference include “how to develop an efficient regulatory system for digital currency“; “the potential impact of digital currency technology on the Australian economy“; and “how Australia can take advantage of digital currency technology to establish itself as a market leader in this field”.
The Committee has already received 46 written submissions, including a submission from the Australian Bankers Association. In particular, the Association:
- Argues (a) that “there is a need for a clear and settled legal and regulatory framework for digital currencies“; and (b) that to “ensure the integrity and stability of the whole [payments] system it is crucial that all channels of payment are subject to the same regulatory oversight. In particular, it is critical to have in place uniform client identification, information security and reporting processes across all payment platforms“; and
- Recommends “that consideration be given to whether all digital currency payment mechanisms should be brought into the AUSTRAC AML/CTF regime“.
The Australian Parliament’s Senate Economics References Committee Inquiry into Digital Currency opened on 2 october 2014, and it’s due to report by 10 August 2015.