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Bitcoin Price Australia – AUD/BTC

Australia is committing itself to help bring fintech into the mainstream and improve financial inclusion. Fintech investment in Australia increased in 2016 while the rest of the globe saw a decrease in funding.

In a report from KPMG, last year saw total fintech investment amount to $US656 million across 25 deals compared to $US185 million across 23 deals in 2015.

Last year the annual FinTech 100 list named nine Australian FinTech companies among the world’s leaders in the sector. A good thing for a nation as it pushes the country up among the leaders within the sector.

Not just that, a report from earlier this year has stated that FinTech revenue in Australia is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 76.3 percent and exceed A$4 billion by 2020.

In 2015, the sector market produced A$247.2 million with 2016 generating further growth and 2017 is projected to continue the upward trend.

As innovative continues within the field, Australia will be focusing on three areas over the coming years: digital payments, personal and business finance, financial infrastructure and data analysis.

Australia continues to focus on the benefits that this innovation is providing other countries, there are clear opportunities for the nation to produce. One includes driving around $10 billion of revenue from traditional financial institutions, ensuring $3 billion worth of added revenue.

With the nation presenting itself as a friendly location for FinTech firms to establish themselves with eligible businesses able to test for a range of financial or credit services, it’s clear to see that Australia is keen to establish itself as the best financial technology country for companies.

Just last year, Scott Morrison, Treasurer of Australia, stated:

From today, all eligible businesses will be able to test a range of financial or credit services with up to 100 retail clients and unlimited wholesale clients for up to twelve months without the need to apply for an Australian Financial Services Licence or Australian Credit Licence and without seeking approval from ASIC.

Australia has gone further than UK as the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) needs only be notified before Fintech commence testing, while UK’s Financial Conduct Authority requires approval to join their sandbox.

As per Morrison, the creation of a regulatory sandbox builds on the existing efforts of the Turnbull Government and the financial regulators to support the growth of the FinTech industry; including tax concessions to encourage investments in early-stage start-ups.

This move is in stark contrast to the approach taken by America where a Fintech Charter was recently announced by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to streamline regulations across the 52 states.

Bitcoin in Australia

Australia is bringing great news for the Bitcoin community. The country has officially confirmed it will treat Bitcoin “just like money” from 1 July 2017 and it will no longer be subject to double taxation.

Bitcoin traders and investors will not be taxed for purchasing and selling Bitcoin through regulated exchanges and trading platforms.

In its budget summary for 2017-18, the government states that as part of its plan to “make it easier” for digital currency businesses to operate in the country. It will ensure that nowhere in the supply chain is general sales tax (GST) paid more than once.

The summary read, “The Government will make it easier for new innovative digital currency businesses to operate in Australia,

Australia has had troubled relationship with cryptocurrency regulation until recently. Back in 2014, when Australia imposed double taxation, it lead several well-known operators to quit the country. Subsequently innovation has subsequently lagged behind markets in which businesses have enjoyed greater freedom.

Over the past two years, the Australian Bitcoin exchange market significantly fell behind growing markets such as South Korea, Japan and South Korea, that control more than half of the global Bitcoin exchange market share.

Two majors factors which drove startups, exchanges and businesses dealing with Bitcoin and other digital currencies in Australia away from the country where the termination of banking services by leading Australian banks due to their anti-competitive nature and the double taxation of Bitcoin trading by the Australian government.

However from July 1, double taxation and trading and goods and services taxation on Bitcoin will be exempted.

The budget further wrote:

The Government will make it easier for new innovative digital currency businesses to operate in Australia. From 1 July 2017, purchases of digital currency will no longer be subject to the GST, allowing digital currencies to be treated just like money for GST purposes. Currently, consumers who use digital currencies can effectively bear GST twice: once on the purchase of the digital currency and once again on its use in exchange for other goods and services subject to the GST.

More importantly, the Australian government’s new vision to spur the growth of fintech and the digital currency market would most likely prevent local banks and financial institutions for unfairly denying banking services to Bitcoin businesses and exchanges.

The Australian Bitcoin market could experience a rapid growth in terms of user base and trading volumes. Innovative fintech deals involving Blockchain have surfaced this year, however, and the tone of the budget extract points to a desire to change Australia’s environment.

At the Blockchain NZ conference held in Auckland, New Zealand earlier this week, Bitcoin and security expert Andreas Antonopoulos emphasized the Australian government’s uninvolvement in its local Bitcoin market and the impact of such actions on Bitcoin businesses and exchanges.

He criticized the local government’s taxation policy on Bitcoin, which essentially drove away businesses and users from Australia to other countries.

With Australia’s new policy, the Bitcoin ecosystem in the country could fundamentally change.

Banks will start offering services to Bitcoin exchanges and traders will not be taxed with GST upon the purchase of Bitcoin.

Chronobank has already joined FinTech Australia (a national Australian Fintech Industry Association). Their vision is to make Australia one of the world’s leading markets for Fintech innovation and investment.

Their membership base now comprises over 70 startups, venture capital funds, hubs and accelerators across Australia that specialise in Fintech. As a not-for-profit organisation, they support the Australian Fintech community, build awareness and trust in Fintech startups and advocate for better policy on behalf of our members.

Fintech Australia is the voice for Fintech innovation in Australia and will vigorously pursue industry collaboration and an environment in which Australian Fintech startups can thrive.

Recently Bitcoin exchanges and blockchain startups of Australia joined government backed blockchain delegation in New York to participate in Consensus 2017, a prominent industry event.

An announcement from the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade), Australia’s trade agency, revealed that the delegation ‘will be heading to the event to present globally competitive and innovative solutions across the spectrum of industry applications, from digital currencies and payments to agricultural supply chains, smart contracts and identity management.’

Bitcoin companies taking part in the delegation are Global Internet Ventures – a company that operates 3 Australian bitcoin exchanges and bitcoin exchange Coin Loft.

According to Austrade’s Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner Nicola Watkinson, the delegation will lay claim Australia’s role as a global leader for testing and the development of blockchain technology.

Watkinson said, “Australia is well positioned to provide global leadership and has become a pioneer in proof-of-concept and adoption of blockchain technologies. Australian financial institutions, in particular, stand in a globally competitive position.

Earlier this year, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) trailed the world’s first blockchain bond issuance by a government entity in partnership with the Queensland Treasury.

Meanwhile, the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX), could become the world’s first major securities exchange operator to upgrade its post-trade services infrastructure using blockchain technology with trials currently underway.

Bitcoin Bill Payments in Australia are on the Rise

Australian bitcoin startup ‘Living Room of Satoshi’, a payments company that enables users to pay their bills with bitcoin, has now processed $5 million in household bills with the cryptocurrency.

The numbers are clear. There is a rise in bill payments using Bitcoin in Australia.

Co-founder and chief executive of Living Room of Satoshi, Daniel Alexiuc, said Bitcoin usage in Australia is growing rapidly, and our customers tell us they are looking for more ways to spend their Bitcoin.

Speaking to Business Insider AU, Daniel Alexiuc underlined the merits of using bitcoin as a currency:

As the first truly international, decentralized and peer to peer currency, Bitcoin is perfectly suited to bill payments in Australia. It also enables new possibilities, like parents in foreign countries being able to easily support their children studying in Australia by paying some of their bills.

The Brisbane-based bitcoin company allows Australian users to settle everyday bills for utilities, credit card payments, gas, water, telecom, school fees, home or property rent and even tax payments. Notably, customers are charged no fees for bills while using the service.

The company makes profit by selling bitcoin on multiple international exchanges, being able to achieve a better price than is possible locally in Australia.

Living Room of Satoshi enables anyone to make payments toward BPAY-enabled bills. Owned by the so-called ‘Big Four’ Australian banks, BPAY is an electronic bill-payment system that enables users to make bill payments for a number of services.

Every major business in Australia is BPAY-enabled, as are the federal and state governments.

Recent figures over three months reveal a majority of bills paid by Australians using bitcoin are toward credit card payments. Telecommunications (phone/internet) come next, followed by gas and electricity, property or rent payments, online shopping, water bills, tax payments, loans, council fee payments and fines.

Parents are turning to bitcoin-based bill payments with school fees figuring as the highest average bill amount.

Interestingly, the startup also allows users to pay in other cryptocurrencies. While bitcoin is the most popular cryptocurrency of choice, users have also made payments with Dash, Ether, Litecoin and Monero.

Australian Government’s Bitcoin ‘double-tax’ ruling affected Living Room of Satoshi in its early days. So much so that they had to temporarily close their operations for two months. To this day, Australians continue to be taxed twice for bitcoin-related purchases, but soon this ruling will change from 1st July, as mentioned earlier.

Can Bitcoin Save Australia’s Devalued Democracy?

Due to an ongoing budget crisis resulting from the resources-crash, Queensland’s credit rating was first downgraded to AA+ in 2009, then further dropped by Fitch and Moody’s to AA following the 2012 budget.

In an attempt to save its rating the Queensland government decided to draw $4 billion from the $34 billion QSuper defined benefits scheme and $10 billion from government-owned corporations.

Wayne Cannon, state actuary, warned the action created a 20% risk of an accrued deficit in the fund, Treasurer Curtis Pitt went ahead regardless.

Consequently, rating agency Standard and Poor’s kept the state’s credit rating steady and says Queensland could regain its AAA rating within two years.

The state government is focused on implementing its debt action plan and in the recent 2016-17 budget announced that it would repatriate about $4 billion in excess superannuation assets to repay debt and fund infrastructure, while maintaining its fully funded nature,” the agency said.

Shadow Treasurer Scott Emerson said the changes would give a treasury bureaucrat the ability to lower the multiple at which long-serving public servant’s final retirement figure was calculated under the defined benefit scheme.

This would significantly reduce the final retirement benefit of core public servants including police, teachers and nurses,” Mr Emerson told parliament.

The changes would mean public servants who have successfully negotiated to have allowances rolled into their salary will no longer have this considered as part of their super entitlements.

LNP leader, Tim Nicholls, said the bill was mostly a repeat of legislation prepared by his party during its term, but contained “risky, sneaky and reckless” provisions. “The only new thing that this Treasurer has done in this legislation is attempt a raid on public servants’ superannuation,” Mr Nicholls said.

Perhaps the most dangerous part of the Revenue and Other Legislation Bill 2016 was the line:

Community consultation was not undertaken in relation to the revenue legislation amendments in the Bill. Consultation was not considered necessary or appropriate as these amendments are necessary to protect the State’s revenue…

Nathan van den Bosch, founder and CEO of Sydney based Bitcoin investment company, Bitcoin Trader says the decision is having a significant impact on the way citizens invest.

Historically people diversify their portfolio with a 5-10% Bitcoin investment. We are now fielding panicked calls from individuals who want to convert their entire savings into Bitcoin.

The Queensland Government’s decision is rippling beyond local borders. Van den Bosch says the legislation sets a dangerous precedent across the entire country, “With a stroke of a pen, any Government can take your Super – Bitcoin is the only asset class immune to third party repatriation.

Australian Regulators to Bring Bitcoin Under AML Laws

Exciting changes are coming to Bitcoin in Australia, as the federal government will change their regulatory stance on cryptocurrency. Avoiding double taxation is the primary objective, and local AML/CTF regulations will be extended to cryptocurrency.

First and foremost, as discussed earlier, the Australian government has announced they will change the way GST on Bitcoin is calculated, as they want to avoid double taxation in the future.

Right now, Bitcoin is viewed as barter, rather than a currency, which is creating an unbalanced taxation situation for consumers and enterprises dealing with cryptocurrency.

The biggest change comes in the form of extending the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act of 2006 to Bitcoin and cryptocurrency.

It is not the first time this topic is touched upon, as discussions regarding this change date back to December of 2013. For the time being, it appears the Australian government is in favor of this recommendation.

An Australian spokesperson said:

Internationally, it is considered that the extension of AML/CTF regulation to include convertible digital currency exchanges would encourage innovation and investment by ensuring service providers have greater certainty and security in their dealings with digital currency businesses, while reducing the money laundering and terrorism financing risks associated with this emerging technology.

Bitcoin has often been referred to as a way for criminals to launder money or fund terrorist, yet neither of these claims has ever been validated properly.

Due to the transparent nature of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency, it has become rather easy to publicly track funds in real-time. However, it seems only reasonable governments around the world want to make sure Bitcoin is part of their AML regulation. Moreover, this decision indirectly gives cryptocurrency the label of “money” in Australia.

Folding cryptocurrency into the “herd” of currencies falling under AML guidelines could boost Bitcoin adoption in Australia as well.

The country is set to become a major player in the FinTech race, and Bitcoin is a part of financial technology. Moreover, this legitimizes the cryptocurrency as a valid form of transferring money and value in the region, which may open new and exciting opportunities in the future.

Australia’s Central Bank is studying Blockchain

Reserve Bank of Australia published a new assessment on the current financial system. It has revealed multiple endeavors by the central bank to study and develop blockchain solutions.

The report on new developments on financial infrastructure has notably pointed to the establishment of a previously unknown ‘internal working group’ to consider the implications of blockchain technology.

The Australian government has been pushing a FinTech-friendly agenda to encourage industry firms and startups to develop solutions in the country. The central bank underlined blockchain technology as an aspect of FinTech that “has been examined closely”.

Australia’s national standards authority is also leading the global ISO effort to develop international blockchain standards, unveiling a roadmap earlier this year.

The central bank revealed:

The Bank is participating in a working group of the Committee on Payments and Market Infrastructures examining DLT (Distributed Ledger or Blockchain Tech) and its implications.

Just over a year ago, RBA’s payments policy department chief Tony Richards confirmed that the bank was keeping an eye on developments in the digital currency space, effectively hinting at a possible national digital dollar in the future.

The Bank will be interested to see what proves to be possible and what proves to be problematic, as countries consider going down the path of digital currency issuance,” said Richard.

In late 2016, an Australian government paper by the country’s accounting standards board underlined the need for new financial reporting standards for digital currencies like Bitcoin, deeming the cryptocurrency a ‘material enough phenomenon’ for new tax standards.

The research is taking place in an environment in which both the Australian public and private sectors are exploring blockchain.

AUSTRAC, one of the country’s finance regulators, launched an innovation hub in March focused in part on experimenting with different use cases. That same month, the Australian government committed funding to help develop standards around the tech while its chief securities regulator moved to boost engagement with startups working on the tech.

Perhaps more notably, the Australian central bank also has its hands in several cross-institution organizations as well.

Key among these is a group within the Council of Financial Regulators – a sort of umbrella group for Australian finance watchdogs – that is “examining DLT and its implications”. On a broader scale, the RBA is also working with the G-20 group of nations on regulatory approaches to financial technology.

In an effort to become for Fintech friendly, Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC), the country’s financial services regulator issued an information broadsheet on blockchain technology as it ponders a regulatory framework for the innovation.

The broadsheet is fundamentally a short questionnaire for companies and startups in Australia who are considering the adoption of blockchain tech.

Australia Post Joins Alibaba to Use Blockchain

Australia Post has announced partnerships with Alibaba, the world’s largest e-commerce company and Blackmores, a prominent Australian natural health company to explore blockchain technology to curb the rise of counterfeit food sold in China.

The joint endeavor will look to develop a blockchain platform to improve the traceability of food products, with Australia Post being a major exporter of food to China.

In recent years, counterfeiters have notably targeted popular Australian export such as beer and wine, honey and cherries, nuts and health supplements.

Australia Post is a wholly government-owned entity based out of Melbourne that is responsible for postal services within Australia and foreign territories.

This initiative will help guarantee genuine food products to arrive in China, according to Bob Black, executive general manager for parcels at AusPost.

According to Black, the initiative will leverage our secure, reliable and fast service to support the authentication of Australian products bound for the Chinese market.

In the past, counterfeiters have proven tricky to combat due to the logistics of fighting fraud in foreign territories, with food fraud underlined among the biggest issues facing the global food industry.

The very real plausibility of health risks due to adulteration and tampered food material has led to a loss of trust from consumers and governments, with implications on trade.

As a result, this project will look to develop blockchain ledger that records an entire supply chain transaction.

Black said, “We are delighted Alibaba has invited us to create an innovative platform, which will track food from paddock to plate, strengthening the supply chain,

With an immutable, tamper-proof, time-stamped ledger, participants will be able to ascertain the entirety of the food production and supply process. Suppliers can ascertain the when, how and where their food was grown before tracking its journey through the technology.

Up-to-date audits and increased transparency between producers and consumers are also underlined as benefits by AusPost.

Australia’s Securities Regulator wants closer ties to Blockchain Startups

Australia’s top securities watchdog is looking to boost its engagement with companies working with blockchain by publishing new materials related to the tech.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) published an “information sheet” that offers a way for businesses and startups to assess whether their uses of distributed ledgers would bring them under the agency’s jurisdiction.

Information Sheet 219‘s purpose, according to ASIC, is to spark additional dialogue between regulators and the private sector, in a bid to “fast track any discussions those entities choose to have with ASIC about their potential regulatory obligations”.

The agency said:

Although DLT is still an emerging technology, we have given, and will continue to give, considerable thought to regulatory issues that may arise if you are contemplating using DLT for your business. This information sheet is designed to help you better understand the regulatory considerations we have identified.

Additionally, ASIC detailed a 12-month exemption for eligible small businesses that serve up to 100 retail clients. These businesses will not be required to apply or hold any Australian Financial Services (AFS) license during those early stages of operation.

The release is perhaps unsurprising, as it comes more than a year after ASIC chief Greg Medcraft remarked that blockchain “will have profound implications for how we regulate”.

As regulators and policymakers, we need to ensure what we do is about harnessing the opportunities and the broader economic benefits – not standing in the way of innovation and development,” Medcraft added.

Australian Government Considers Blockchain for Land Transport

The National Transport Commission (NTC) is undertaking strategic work called Land Transport Regulation 2040. The aim is to answer the question of “How could or should we regulate land transport in the future?”

The report claims that new technology can help achieve “a fairer, more transparent, and more sustainable, transport charging and funding model.”

However, this technology must establish and maintain a trusted, interoperable and secure data communications within transport as well as between transport and other service providers.

“One mechanism for this, might be the use of blockchain technology,” the report reads. Citing industry experts’ opinions, it also further noted:

It is only a matter of time before blockchain technology is used in peer-to-peer and machine-to-machine transactions where high levels of trust and verifiability is required. It could also be used in transport system safety technologies.

There are number of industries exploring blockchain technology, especially the finance sector. Australian banks are also investigating the use of blockchains to reduce transaction costs as well as increase speed and efficiency.

The technology has the potential to transform not only the finance industry but also many others. “Every now and then, something comes along that might just change everything. And this is one of those moments,” said Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) chief executive, Elmer Funke Kupper.

Wheat Farmers in Australia try Blockchain

Wheat growing in Australia is a problem that costs hundreds of millions of dollars each year for growers.

To reduce the number of insolvencies or problems with payments that growers often face, one company is attempting to solve this issue with the blockchain.

Australian-based AgriDigital, the integrated, cloud-based platform that seamlessly manages contracts, deliveries, invoices, payments, and inventory – which is led by Australian startup Full Profile – concluded its pilot where it was connected to a private Ethereum blockchain computer network.

According to the Australian Financial Review, this saw the world’s first live settlement of a physical commodity on the blockchain.

The report highlights how David Whillock, a wheat grower in , Whillock Pastoral, near Geurie, NSW, delivered 23 metric tonnes to Dubbo-based Fletcher International Exports. With the use of the blockchain, however, it provided Whillock with the confidence to help maintain his cash flow and his business.

According to the Victorian Farmers Federation Grains Group, it believes that $50 million was lost in 2014 by grain growers with grain trade insolvencies being the main issue.

Emma Weston, co-founder of Full Profile, is reported as saying that ensuring grain is transferred from a grower to a consumer is currently too complex. This then poses heightened risks and costs such as slow payments.

The technology for the AgriDigital platform can also be used to provide grain buyers with financing options.

Weston said that the blockchain can inform the seller about whether the buyer can pay, giving them the confidence they need to know that they will be paid on time.

“With this new technology, we can remove counterparty risk so that buyers and sellers can operate in confidence as they did in the past.” she said.

The banking industry is one sector that has been experimenting with blockchain. Only recently the French central bank undertook an interbank blockchain experiment, while blockchain is being used to fight cyber crime, and the energy industry is also tapping into the technology.

True potential of blockchain is beyond our belief. It remains to be seen how effective the technology will be, but given its impact in so many other sectors it appears that it will provide the same answers for agriculture too.

Australian Travel Agency Tests Blockchain Bookings

A hotel bookings company based in Australia has developed a blockchain proof-of-concept in partnership with Microsoft.

Using the tech giant’s Microsoft Azure platform as a basis, Webjet created what it described as a platform “to create shared, independent and trustworthy documents”.

The company is live testing its blockchain solution across several of the Web-based services it operates, with an eye to expand over the next year.

Webjet is a public company which trades on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX), a firm that has been experimenting with blockchain applications of its own.

As of now the focus is on growing the scope of the pilot. John Guscic, managing director for Webjet, said in a statement:

We realized facilitating bookings in the travel industry could become an additional business we could enter in the future, and the same technology could also help solve problems outside the travel industry.

Representatives from Microsoft indicated that the core elements of the Webjet project could be applied elsewhere.

By working with Webjet to use our digital platform, together we have created an innovative blockchain solution in Australia that has the potential to not only transform the travel industry but many other industries as well,” Mark Russinovich, Azure chief technology officer, said of the project.

Australia’s Blockchain Solar Power-Trading Suburbs

There is no limit to Blockchain use it seems. A suburb in Fremantle, Western Australia will see its apartment owners to be among the first in the country to trade solar power over a blockchain.

Solar-powered one-bedroom apartments developed by Landcorp, the development arm of the government of Western Australia are reportedly expected to be snapped up by predominantly young dwellers.

These apartment-owners will soon be able to trade their any surplus solar energy over a blockchain developed by Power Ledger, a Perth startup that aims to enable owners of solar panels to sell excess energy.

This beats the conventional model of selling excess energy for a lower feed-in tariff which is then sold at a higher rate from the grid.

As reported by the Australian Financial Review, Landcorp is offering three ‘Gen Y’ apartments that will share 9 KW solar panels between them, along with a large 10KWh battery.

Power Ledger co-founder Jemma Green sees massive potential for harnessing solar energy in Australia with apartments representing a quarter of all dwellings in the country.

More notably, 35% to 40% of all new developments are apartments, which makes for a viable peer-to-peer energy trading ecosystem, if implemented properly.

Power Ledger is already engaging in blockchain-based solar energy trading trials in the country. The local Australian startup picked a retirement village in Busselton, Western Australia, allowing for users to trade excess solar energy amongst each other.

The trial will see Raspberry Pi mini-computers put to use in order to track a house’s energy usage. Energy meters will be fitted at 20 households, along with a communal clubhouse. Actual deployments of the technology are scheduled in 2017 in Victoria and Perth.

New York-based LO3 Energy, a startup which is pushing toward the development of a community microgrid detached from the larger U.S. electricity grid sees blockchain technology to make a telling impact in the energy industry, at a time when there is an increased focus to move away from fossil fuels.

“I think that there are going to be hundreds of blockchain energy companies springing up in the next couple of years. It’s going to be a really interesting time in the energy space.” said Lawrence Orsini, founder at LO3 Energy.

Australia’s Push for the Fintech Race

The RegTech Association has officially launched in Australia and is aiming to aid the regulation technology sector just like fintech is changing financial services.

According to a report from Finder, the Association will promote good corporate practice in compliance management and boost regulatory compliance outcomes.

Matt Symons, co-founder of Red Marker and RegTech Association director, said that the Association is looking forward to aiding partnerships between several Australian financial services stakeholders who they believe could utilize the technology and those creating regtech companies.

He said, “We hope that by bringing them together we can create a bit of an ecosystem in Australia around regtech.”

First Australian RegTech Hackathon

Australia sees its first RegHack DownUnder hackathon take place with the aim of using disruptive Fintech to improve regulatory compliance.

The three-day event, with official partners, Victorian State Government, RMIT University and ADCCA, will specifically focus on issues in Australia’s energy sector.

It will be about how government and regulators function needs to change in order to be aligned with and responsive to new technologies and businesses when they present themselves.

Participants applying to take part in the private event will be leveraging so-called RegTech, a method for using innovate technological solutions to address legacy inefficiencies and other weak points.

“As the RegTech landscape evolves, organizations are asking the questions to better understand how to leverage RegTech to be more effective, efficient and competitive in the marketplace,” the RegHack’s website explains.

The impact of the hackathon could very well prove to be a game changer, providing a new lens for the regulators to view and embrace the changing dynamics of the business world, and start operating in a proactive and forward thinking approach,” he wrote in summary comments following the hackathon.

FinTech Agreement with Indonesia

A deal was inked between the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and Indonesia’s Otoritas Jasa Keuangan (OJK) in Melbourne to enter into a Fintech cooperation agreement in a bid to bolster innovation in the sector.

The agreement will see the two regulators combine to develop and establish a framework that promotes financial services in each other’s markets.

The framework will see a common agreement to share information on new market trends and regulatory questions in the face of new financial innovation. The regulators believe the collaboration will help push development of these innovations in their countries.

ASIC commissioner John Price said:

Many fintech are not constrained by national borders and it is fundamental that we leverage this to share views, exchange information and it is fundamental that we leverage this to share views, exchange information and to discuss some of the challenges that this can create for fintech businesses and the community.

The partnership is particularly notable due to the geographical proximity of both countries and Australia’s Asian neighbor being the largest economy in south-east Asia.

The ASIC announcement points to FinTech developments in a number of traditional financial and banking sectors including payments and transfers, insurance, retail banking and markets, lending and finance, among others.

Peer-to-peer lending, crowd funding, investment and financing are all services already being provided by FinTech developers.

OJK chairman Pak Miliaman added:

“I hope this further collaboration will be able to promote innovation in our financial service markets and to deepen engagement that can be used for financial sector development in both countries.”

He also introduced relaxed regulations for peer-to-peer FinTech firms earlier this year alongside a sandbox for that will see startups test their services under regulatory supervision.

Australia also threw out the rulebook late last year, welcoming industry firms to friendlier shores.

Notably, the ASIC has favored FinTech innovations, particularly with blockchain technology. In March 2016, the regulatory body’s commissioner encouraged regulators around the world to “start thinking about” blockchain technology.

Fintech Bridge to the UK

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) and the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) have also signed a collaborative agreement to enable and support the flow of financial technology development and innovation between Australia and the United Kingdom.

The CBA is an Australian multinational bank with a presence in the United Kingdom. The aim is to assist Australian FinTech companies and startups to gain entry into the UK market. The United Kingdom is frequently seen as the world’s hub for financial technology innovation.

As a part of the agreement Australian FinTech companies will gain access to a temporary space for up to three months in CBA’s London Innovation Lab, easing their entry into the UK and European markets.

David Watson, senior commissioner for trade and investment at Austrade UK sees the collaboration bringing notable benefits for FinTech firms in both regions.

According to Watson, it gives Australian firms the opportunity to access the latest fintech in CBA’s innovation Lab and to immerse themselves in the world’s leading fintech market, while UK companies can tap into Australia’s expertise through networking sessions.

The collaboration will also support trade missions from Australia and the UK to visit each other, alongside introducing industry startups and companies that seek expansion, to each other’s respective markets.

With the collaboration, Australian companies will be benefited in gaining access to the UK market. Startups and companies will also receive mentoring to establish a foothold in the UK and European markets, which is great for Fintech in both the countries.

“By joining the global innovation ecosystem, our fintech startups increase their opportunities to turn their ideas into global businesses,” Watson added.

Cyber Scams On the Rise in Australia

Wherever the money goes, ponzis must follow. Bitcoin is no different. Cybercriminals are always finding new ways to extort money from unsuspecting internet users.

Recently, Australian internet users are being targeted over Facebook by scammers posing as government employees.

As per the reports, on Australian news media platforms, the cybercriminals are impersonating representatives from big brands, government agencies, utilities and telecom companies and even the taxation department.

The scammers are said to be leveraging technology to send out mass mailers and make calls in bulk over VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), targeting potential victims.

Scammers impersonating representatives from the Australian Taxation Office have allegedly collected over $1 million from various residents in the form of iTunes gift cards.

According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the victims were asked by scammers to buy and share iTunes gift cards and other prepaid cards worth thousands of dollars each, to settle tax debts. The victims were threatened of consequences, including arrest if they don’t follow the instructions.

The total losses due to similar scams during the year is said to be a whopping $70 million,out of which Bitcoin payments make a considerable chunk.

The government and law enforcement agencies are trying hard to contain these scams, ranging from the impersonation of government agents, investment schemes, dating and romance scams etc. But the criminals are always a step further, coming up with new ways to defraud people, using innovative payment methods.

Ransomware attacks also figure in the list of scams, where criminals infect the computer with malware that encrypts the contents. In order to gain the decryption key, the victim is forced to pay a ransom in bitcoin.

Very recently we saw wannacry ransomware attack where hackers infected windows computers and demanded payment in Bitcoin.

In the light of increasing scams, internet users are advised to follow safe browsing practices and to conduct a thorough background check before investing or sending money in any form to anyone.

When dealing with anyone claiming to be from a government department, it is advisable to verify and report such individuals to the concerned department. Important to keep in mind that government institutions and tax office never ask individuals to settle their tax debts in the form of prepaid cards or bitcoin.

Australia To Lead International Blockchain Standards Initiative

Standards Australia is the group that will lead the charge for establishing international blockchain standards.

Dr. Bronwyn Evans, CEO of Standards Australia, mentioned the group will be responsible for supporting interoperability among systems. There will also be a focus on privacy, terminology, and most importantly, security.

Evans further added:

Leading the ISO blockchain committee will place Australia in the perfect position to help inform, shape and influence the future direction of international standards to support the rollout and deployment of blockchain technology. This exciting initiative will put Australia at the centre stage of global innovation and digital disruption.

Everyone in the world seems convinced the blockchain will shape up the financial industry. But its use cases extend far beyond banking and payments as well.

International standards can help nurture development across different industries. Establishing those guidelines, however, will require a lot of international collaboration.

Australia wants to be the leading global player in blockchain standards development. While they are not the only ones who want to play a role of significance, somebody has to be the first.

For now, a total of 36 countries has agreed to be part of this committee. Among the other members are the US, Estonia, Japan, and Korea. It is positive to see Asia being represented at the early stages.

These international blockchain standards will allow for greater market certainty and confidence. They will also support regulation of financial transactions, asset transfers, and commodity exchanges. A unified set of guidelines can foster innovation in the world of distributed ledgers.

However, these rules will be difficult to enforce upon open blockchains, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum.

Buy Bitcoin in Australia

There are many ways you can buy Bitcoin in Australia.

1. CoinJar

CoinJar is the most well-known Australian Bitcoin platform and broker. You can purchase bitcoin via BPAY for a 1% fee.

2. BuyaBitcoin

BuyaBitcoin is Australian Bitcoin broker. You can use the service to buy bitcoin via cash deposit for 4.9% fees. Your coins are usually delivered within an hour.

3. Independent Reserve

Independent Reserve is an Australian Bitcoin exchange, geared towards traders and corporations. You can fund your account with EFT, SWIFT, POLi, or Crypto Capital. All these methods are free above certain minimums.

4. Coin Loft

Coin Loft is an Australian Bitcoin broker. You can buy bitcoin with cash deposit, credit card, Flexepin, and POLi. If you purchase with cash, your coins are delivered within an hour.

5. CoinCorner

CoinCorner is a Bitcoin exchange based on the Isle of Man. They cater to users in the UK, Europe, Canada, Australia, and certain African, Asian, and South American countries. CoinCorner users may purchase bitcoins with SEPA, credit/debit card, GBP bank transfer, and now Neteller too.

6. Coinbase

Residents of Australia can use Coinbase to purchase bitcoins with a credit card or debit card. The fees are 3.99% per purchase, and your bitcoins are delivered instantly.

If you purchase more than $100 USD (~130 AUD) worth of bitcoins through this link then you get $10 USD (~13 AUD) worth of bitcoins for free!

7. CoinMama

CoinMama allows customers in almost every country to buy bitcoin with a credit or debit card. They charge an ~8% fee on each purchase.

If buying less than $150 worth of bitcoins, you won’t need to verify your identity. This convenience makes small purchases quick and easy.

8. BTCC

BTCC Exchange is a Bitcoin exchange based in Hong Kong and traded in USD.

9. LocalBitcoins

LocalBitcoins is an escrow service which also helps to match bitcoin buyers and sellers. The most common method of payment for purchase is cash deposit. However, users may advertise trades for whichever payment method they prefer.

Buying bitcoins via an in-person meeting, secured and facilitated by LocalBitcoins, may be one of the fastest and most private ways to buy bitcoins in any country.

10. Bitcoin ATMs

There are a total of 13 Bitcoin ATMs in Australia. If you happen to be near one of them, you could buy Bitcoin using cash.

Bitcoin ATMs can be a quick and easy way to buy bitcoins and they’re also private. That convenience and privacy, however, comes with a price; most ATMs have fees of 5-10%.

Spend Bitcoin in Australia

Plenty of merchants in Australia are willing to give you products/service in exchange of your Bitcoin.

1. The Tomcar

A company making designer off road vehicles.

2. Frisk Small Bar

A place to chill with a drink.

3. Visible Online Marketing

A digital marketing company that accepts Bitcoin as a payment.

4. Fasttech

All your tech needs on your fingertips.

5. The Old Fitzroy Hotel

With over 100 years of history, this family-owned gem is hidden in the back streets of Woolloomooloo. Boasting Australia’s only pub theatre, the Old Fitz Theatre seats 60, showing quality performances of classics and contemporary independent theatre.

6. Joostice

Fresh Cold-Pressed Raw Locally Sourced Juice.

7. Since I Left You

Located in the heart of the Sydney CBD in a heritage-listed storehouse, SILY pairs a welcoming relaxed feel with old-school decadence and charm.

8. Fountain of Being

Fountain of Being is a 100% Australian owned and operated Online Natural Health Store based in Sydney.

9. Artof2

Commercial Lifestyle Portrait Photography.

10. Melbourne Climbing School

All about rock climbing in the outdoors.

Conclusion

Lately Australia has been illustrating that it has what it takes to be the number one location for fintech startups to establish themselves.

Only last year the nation was recognized as a world leader in the sector with nine companies listed in the FinTech 100 list.

The country has been known for its positive reception for new firms to grow. It is now pushing the fintech agenda, which is changing how the finance sector operates, presenting challenges and opportunities.

It is clear that the growth of the fintech industry is one of Australia’s main priorities, which is evident through its Innovation Hub that works with financial technology startups that are working with regulators.

Bitcoin to AUD

Australia is committing itself to help bring fintech into the mainstream and improve financial inclusion. Fintech investment in Australia increased in 2016 while the rest of the globe saw a decrease in funding.

In a report from KPMG, last year saw total fintech investment amount to $US656 million across 25 deals compared to $US185 million across 23 deals in 2015.

Last year the annual FinTech 100 list named nine Australian FinTech companies among the world’s leaders in the sector. A good thing for a nation as it pushes the country up among the leaders within the sector.

Not just that, a report from earlier this year has stated that FinTech revenue in Australia is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 76.3 percent and exceed A$4 billion by 2020.

In 2015, the sector market produced A$247.2 million with 2016 generating further growth and 2017 is projected to continue the upward trend.

As innovative continues within the field, Australia will be focusing on three areas over the coming years: digital payments, personal and business finance, financial infrastructure and data analysis.

Australia continues to focus on the benefits that this innovation is providing other countries, there are clear opportunities for the nation to produce. One includes driving around $10 billion of revenue from traditional financial institutions, ensuring $3 billion worth of added revenue.

With the nation presenting itself as a friendly location for FinTech firms to establish themselves with eligible businesses able to test for a range of financial or credit services, it’s clear to see that Australia is keen to establish itself as the best financial technology country for companies.

Just last year, Scott Morrison, Treasurer of Australia, stated:

From today, all eligible businesses will be able to test a range of financial or credit services with up to 100 retail clients and unlimited wholesale clients for up to twelve months without the need to apply for an Australian Financial Services Licence or Australian Credit Licence and without seeking approval from ASIC.

Australia has gone further than UK as the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) needs only be notified before Fintech commence testing, while UK’s Financial Conduct Authority requires approval to join their sandbox.

As per Morrison, the creation of a regulatory sandbox builds on the existing efforts of the Turnbull Government and the financial regulators to support the growth of the FinTech industry; including tax concessions to encourage investments in early-stage start-ups.

This move is in stark contrast to the approach taken by America where a Fintech Charter was recently announced by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to streamline regulations across the 52 states.

Bitcoin in Australia

Australia is bringing great news for the Bitcoin community. The country has officially confirmed it will treat Bitcoin “just like money” from 1 July 2017 and it will no longer be subject to double taxation.

Bitcoin traders and investors will not be taxed for purchasing and selling Bitcoin through regulated exchanges and trading platforms.

In its budget summary for 2017-18, the government states that as part of its plan to “make it easier” for digital currency businesses to operate in the country. It will ensure that nowhere in the supply chain is general sales tax (GST) paid more than once.

The summary read, “The Government will make it easier for new innovative digital currency businesses to operate in Australia,

Australia has had troubled relationship with cryptocurrency regulation until recently. Back in 2014, when Australia imposed double taxation, it lead several well-known operators to quit the country. Subsequently innovation has subsequently lagged behind markets in which businesses have enjoyed greater freedom.

Over the past two years, the Australian Bitcoin exchange market significantly fell behind growing markets such as South Korea, Japan and South Korea, that control more than half of the global Bitcoin exchange market share.

Two majors factors which drove startups, exchanges and businesses dealing with Bitcoin and other digital currencies in Australia away from the country where the termination of banking services by leading Australian banks due to their anti-competitive nature and the double taxation of Bitcoin trading by the Australian government.

However from July 1, double taxation and trading and goods and services taxation on Bitcoin will be exempted.

The budget further wrote:

The Government will make it easier for new innovative digital currency businesses to operate in Australia. From 1 July 2017, purchases of digital currency will no longer be subject to the GST, allowing digital currencies to be treated just like money for GST purposes. Currently, consumers who use digital currencies can effectively bear GST twice: once on the purchase of the digital currency and once again on its use in exchange for other goods and services subject to the GST.

More importantly, the Australian government’s new vision to spur the growth of fintech and the digital currency market would most likely prevent local banks and financial institutions for unfairly denying banking services to Bitcoin businesses and exchanges.

The Australian Bitcoin market could experience a rapid growth in terms of user base and trading volumes. Innovative fintech deals involving Blockchain have surfaced this year, however, and the tone of the budget extract points to a desire to change Australia’s environment.

At the Blockchain NZ conference held in Auckland, New Zealand earlier this week, Bitcoin and security expert Andreas Antonopoulos emphasized the Australian government’s uninvolvement in its local Bitcoin market and the impact of such actions on Bitcoin businesses and exchanges.

He criticized the local government’s taxation policy on Bitcoin, which essentially drove away businesses and users from Australia to other countries.

With Australia’s new policy, the Bitcoin ecosystem in the country could fundamentally change.

Banks will start offering services to Bitcoin exchanges and traders will not be taxed with GST upon the purchase of Bitcoin.

Chronobank has already joined FinTech Australia (a national Australian Fintech Industry Association). Their vision is to make Australia one of the world’s leading markets for Fintech innovation and investment.

Their membership base now comprises over 70 startups, venture capital funds, hubs and accelerators across Australia that specialise in Fintech. As a not-for-profit organisation, they support the Australian Fintech community, build awareness and trust in Fintech startups and advocate for better policy on behalf of our members.

Fintech Australia is the voice for Fintech innovation in Australia and will vigorously pursue industry collaboration and an environment in which Australian Fintech startups can thrive.

Recently Bitcoin exchanges and blockchain startups of Australia joined government backed blockchain delegation in New York to participate in Consensus 2017, a prominent industry event.

An announcement from the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade), Australia’s trade agency, revealed that the delegation ‘will be heading to the event to present globally competitive and innovative solutions across the spectrum of industry applications, from digital currencies and payments to agricultural supply chains, smart contracts and identity management.’

Bitcoin companies taking part in the delegation are Global Internet Ventures – a company that operates 3 Australian bitcoin exchanges and bitcoin exchange Coin Loft.

According to Austrade’s Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner Nicola Watkinson, the delegation will lay claim Australia’s role as a global leader for testing and the development of blockchain technology.

Watkinson said, “Australia is well positioned to provide global leadership and has become a pioneer in proof-of-concept and adoption of blockchain technologies. Australian financial institutions, in particular, stand in a globally competitive position.

Earlier this year, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) trailed the world’s first blockchain bond issuance by a government entity in partnership with the Queensland Treasury.

Meanwhile, the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX), could become the world’s first major securities exchange operator to upgrade its post-trade services infrastructure using blockchain technology with trials currently underway.

Bitcoin Bill Payments in Australia are on the Rise

Australian bitcoin startup ‘Living Room of Satoshi’, a payments company that enables users to pay their bills with bitcoin, has now processed $5 million in household bills with the cryptocurrency.

The numbers are clear. There is a rise in bill payments using Bitcoin in Australia.

Co-founder and chief executive of Living Room of Satoshi, Daniel Alexiuc, said Bitcoin usage in Australia is growing rapidly, and our customers tell us they are looking for more ways to spend their Bitcoin.

Speaking to Business Insider AU, Daniel Alexiuc underlined the merits of using bitcoin as a currency:

As the first truly international, decentralized and peer to peer currency, Bitcoin is perfectly suited to bill payments in Australia. It also enables new possibilities, like parents in foreign countries being able to easily support their children studying in Australia by paying some of their bills.

The Brisbane-based bitcoin company allows Australian users to settle everyday bills for utilities, credit card payments, gas, water, telecom, school fees, home or property rent and even tax payments. Notably, customers are charged no fees for bills while using the service.

The company makes profit by selling bitcoin on multiple international exchanges, being able to achieve a better price than is possible locally in Australia.

Living Room of Satoshi enables anyone to make payments toward BPAY-enabled bills. Owned by the so-called ‘Big Four’ Australian banks, BPAY is an electronic bill-payment system that enables users to make bill payments for a number of services.

Every major business in Australia is BPAY-enabled, as are the federal and state governments.

Recent figures over three months reveal a majority of bills paid by Australians using bitcoin are toward credit card payments. Telecommunications (phone/internet) come next, followed by gas and electricity, property or rent payments, online shopping, water bills, tax payments, loans, council fee payments and fines.

Parents are turning to bitcoin-based bill payments with school fees figuring as the highest average bill amount.

Interestingly, the startup also allows users to pay in other cryptocurrencies. While bitcoin is the most popular cryptocurrency of choice, users have also made payments with Dash, Ether, Litecoin and Monero.

Australian Government’s Bitcoin ‘double-tax’ ruling affected Living Room of Satoshi in its early days. So much so that they had to temporarily close their operations for two months. To this day, Australians continue to be taxed twice for bitcoin-related purchases, but soon this ruling will change from 1st July, as mentioned earlier.

Can Bitcoin Save Australia’s Devalued Democracy?

Due to an ongoing budget crisis resulting from the resources-crash, Queensland’s credit rating was first downgraded to AA+ in 2009, then further dropped by Fitch and Moody’s to AA following the 2012 budget.

In an attempt to save its rating the Queensland government decided to draw $4 billion from the $34 billion QSuper defined benefits scheme and $10 billion from government-owned corporations.

Wayne Cannon, state actuary, warned the action created a 20% risk of an accrued deficit in the fund, Treasurer Curtis Pitt went ahead regardless.

Consequently, rating agency Standard and Poor’s kept the state’s credit rating steady and says Queensland could regain its AAA rating within two years.

The state government is focused on implementing its debt action plan and in the recent 2016-17 budget announced that it would repatriate about $4 billion in excess superannuation assets to repay debt and fund infrastructure, while maintaining its fully funded nature,” the agency said.

Shadow Treasurer Scott Emerson said the changes would give a treasury bureaucrat the ability to lower the multiple at which long-serving public servant’s final retirement figure was calculated under the defined benefit scheme.

This would significantly reduce the final retirement benefit of core public servants including police, teachers and nurses,” Mr Emerson told parliament.

The changes would mean public servants who have successfully negotiated to have allowances rolled into their salary will no longer have this considered as part of their super entitlements.

LNP leader, Tim Nicholls, said the bill was mostly a repeat of legislation prepared by his party during its term, but contained “risky, sneaky and reckless” provisions. “The only new thing that this Treasurer has done in this legislation is attempt a raid on public servants’ superannuation,” Mr Nicholls said.

Perhaps the most dangerous part of the Revenue and Other Legislation Bill 2016 was the line:

Community consultation was not undertaken in relation to the revenue legislation amendments in the Bill. Consultation was not considered necessary or appropriate as these amendments are necessary to protect the State’s revenue…

Nathan van den Bosch, founder and CEO of Sydney based Bitcoin investment company, Bitcoin Trader says the decision is having a significant impact on the way citizens invest.

Historically people diversify their portfolio with a 5-10% Bitcoin investment. We are now fielding panicked calls from individuals who want to convert their entire savings into Bitcoin.

The Queensland Government’s decision is rippling beyond local borders. Van den Bosch says the legislation sets a dangerous precedent across the entire country, “With a stroke of a pen, any Government can take your Super – Bitcoin is the only asset class immune to third party repatriation.

Australian Regulators to Bring Bitcoin Under AML Laws

Exciting changes are coming to Bitcoin in Australia, as the federal government will change their regulatory stance on cryptocurrency. Avoiding double taxation is the primary objective, and local AML/CTF regulations will be extended to cryptocurrency.

First and foremost, as discussed earlier, the Australian government has announced they will change the way GST on Bitcoin is calculated, as they want to avoid double taxation in the future.

Right now, Bitcoin is viewed as barter, rather than a currency, which is creating an unbalanced taxation situation for consumers and enterprises dealing with cryptocurrency.

The biggest change comes in the form of extending the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act of 2006 to Bitcoin and cryptocurrency.

It is not the first time this topic is touched upon, as discussions regarding this change date back to December of 2013. For the time being, it appears the Australian government is in favor of this recommendation.

An Australian spokesperson said:

Internationally, it is considered that the extension of AML/CTF regulation to include convertible digital currency exchanges would encourage innovation and investment by ensuring service providers have greater certainty and security in their dealings with digital currency businesses, while reducing the money laundering and terrorism financing risks associated with this emerging technology.

Bitcoin has often been referred to as a way for criminals to launder money or fund terrorist, yet neither of these claims has ever been validated properly.

Due to the transparent nature of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency, it has become rather easy to publicly track funds in real-time. However, it seems only reasonable governments around the world want to make sure Bitcoin is part of their AML regulation. Moreover, this decision indirectly gives cryptocurrency the label of “money” in Australia.

Folding cryptocurrency into the “herd” of currencies falling under AML guidelines could boost Bitcoin adoption in Australia as well.

The country is set to become a major player in the FinTech race, and Bitcoin is a part of financial technology. Moreover, this legitimizes the cryptocurrency as a valid form of transferring money and value in the region, which may open new and exciting opportunities in the future.

Australia’s Central Bank is studying Blockchain

Reserve Bank of Australia published a new assessment on the current financial system. It has revealed multiple endeavors by the central bank to study and develop blockchain solutions.

The report on new developments on financial infrastructure has notably pointed to the establishment of a previously unknown ‘internal working group’ to consider the implications of blockchain technology.

The Australian government has been pushing a FinTech-friendly agenda to encourage industry firms and startups to develop solutions in the country. The central bank underlined blockchain technology as an aspect of FinTech that “has been examined closely”.

Australia’s national standards authority is also leading the global ISO effort to develop international blockchain standards, unveiling a roadmap earlier this year.

The central bank revealed:

The Bank is participating in a working group of the Committee on Payments and Market Infrastructures examining DLT (Distributed Ledger or Blockchain Tech) and its implications.

Just over a year ago, RBA’s payments policy department chief Tony Richards confirmed that the bank was keeping an eye on developments in the digital currency space, effectively hinting at a possible national digital dollar in the future.

The Bank will be interested to see what proves to be possible and what proves to be problematic, as countries consider going down the path of digital currency issuance,” said Richard.

In late 2016, an Australian government paper by the country’s accounting standards board underlined the need for new financial reporting standards for digital currencies like Bitcoin, deeming the cryptocurrency a ‘material enough phenomenon’ for new tax standards.

The research is taking place in an environment in which both the Australian public and private sectors are exploring blockchain.

AUSTRAC, one of the country’s finance regulators, launched an innovation hub in March focused in part on experimenting with different use cases. That same month, the Australian government committed funding to help develop standards around the tech while its chief securities regulator moved to boost engagement with startups working on the tech.

Perhaps more notably, the Australian central bank also has its hands in several cross-institution organizations as well.

Key among these is a group within the Council of Financial Regulators – a sort of umbrella group for Australian finance watchdogs – that is “examining DLT and its implications”. On a broader scale, the RBA is also working with the G-20 group of nations on regulatory approaches to financial technology.

In an effort to become for Fintech friendly, Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC), the country’s financial services regulator issued an information broadsheet on blockchain technology as it ponders a regulatory framework for the innovation.

The broadsheet is fundamentally a short questionnaire for companies and startups in Australia who are considering the adoption of blockchain tech.

Australia Post Joins Alibaba to Use Blockchain

Australia Post has announced partnerships with Alibaba, the world’s largest e-commerce company and Blackmores, a prominent Australian natural health company to explore blockchain technology to curb the rise of counterfeit food sold in China.

The joint endeavor will look to develop a blockchain platform to improve the traceability of food products, with Australia Post being a major exporter of food to China.

In recent years, counterfeiters have notably targeted popular Australian export such as beer and wine, honey and cherries, nuts and health supplements.

Australia Post is a wholly government-owned entity based out of Melbourne that is responsible for postal services within Australia and foreign territories.

This initiative will help guarantee genuine food products to arrive in China, according to Bob Black, executive general manager for parcels at AusPost.

According to Black, the initiative will leverage our secure, reliable and fast service to support the authentication of Australian products bound for the Chinese market.

In the past, counterfeiters have proven tricky to combat due to the logistics of fighting fraud in foreign territories, with food fraud underlined among the biggest issues facing the global food industry.

The very real plausibility of health risks due to adulteration and tampered food material has led to a loss of trust from consumers and governments, with implications on trade.

As a result, this project will look to develop blockchain ledger that records an entire supply chain transaction.

Black said, “We are delighted Alibaba has invited us to create an innovative platform, which will track food from paddock to plate, strengthening the supply chain,

With an immutable, tamper-proof, time-stamped ledger, participants will be able to ascertain the entirety of the food production and supply process. Suppliers can ascertain the when, how and where their food was grown before tracking its journey through the technology.

Up-to-date audits and increased transparency between producers and consumers are also underlined as benefits by AusPost.

Australia’s Securities Regulator wants closer ties to Blockchain Startups

Australia’s top securities watchdog is looking to boost its engagement with companies working with blockchain by publishing new materials related to the tech.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) published an “information sheet” that offers a way for businesses and startups to assess whether their uses of distributed ledgers would bring them under the agency’s jurisdiction.

Information Sheet 219‘s purpose, according to ASIC, is to spark additional dialogue between regulators and the private sector, in a bid to “fast track any discussions those entities choose to have with ASIC about their potential regulatory obligations”.

The agency said:

Although DLT is still an emerging technology, we have given, and will continue to give, considerable thought to regulatory issues that may arise if you are contemplating using DLT for your business. This information sheet is designed to help you better understand the regulatory considerations we have identified.

Additionally, ASIC detailed a 12-month exemption for eligible small businesses that serve up to 100 retail clients. These businesses will not be required to apply or hold any Australian Financial Services (AFS) license during those early stages of operation.

The release is perhaps unsurprising, as it comes more than a year after ASIC chief Greg Medcraft remarked that blockchain “will have profound implications for how we regulate”.

As regulators and policymakers, we need to ensure what we do is about harnessing the opportunities and the broader economic benefits – not standing in the way of innovation and development,” Medcraft added.

Australian Government Considers Blockchain for Land Transport

The National Transport Commission (NTC) is undertaking strategic work called Land Transport Regulation 2040. The aim is to answer the question of “How could or should we regulate land transport in the future?”

The report claims that new technology can help achieve “a fairer, more transparent, and more sustainable, transport charging and funding model.”

However, this technology must establish and maintain a trusted, interoperable and secure data communications within transport as well as between transport and other service providers.

“One mechanism for this, might be the use of blockchain technology,” the report reads. Citing industry experts’ opinions, it also further noted:

It is only a matter of time before blockchain technology is used in peer-to-peer and machine-to-machine transactions where high levels of trust and verifiability is required. It could also be used in transport system safety technologies.

There are number of industries exploring blockchain technology, especially the finance sector. Australian banks are also investigating the use of blockchains to reduce transaction costs as well as increase speed and efficiency.

The technology has the potential to transform not only the finance industry but also many others. “Every now and then, something comes along that might just change everything. And this is one of those moments,” said Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) chief executive, Elmer Funke Kupper.

Wheat Farmers in Australia try Blockchain

Wheat growing in Australia is a problem that costs hundreds of millions of dollars each year for growers.

To reduce the number of insolvencies or problems with payments that growers often face, one company is attempting to solve this issue with the blockchain.

Australian-based AgriDigital, the integrated, cloud-based platform that seamlessly manages contracts, deliveries, invoices, payments, and inventory – which is led by Australian startup Full Profile – concluded its pilot where it was connected to a private Ethereum blockchain computer network.

According to the Australian Financial Review, this saw the world’s first live settlement of a physical commodity on the blockchain.

The report highlights how David Whillock, a wheat grower in , Whillock Pastoral, near Geurie, NSW, delivered 23 metric tonnes to Dubbo-based Fletcher International Exports. With the use of the blockchain, however, it provided Whillock with the confidence to help maintain his cash flow and his business.

According to the Victorian Farmers Federation Grains Group, it believes that $50 million was lost in 2014 by grain growers with grain trade insolvencies being the main issue.

Emma Weston, co-founder of Full Profile, is reported as saying that ensuring grain is transferred from a grower to a consumer is currently too complex. This then poses heightened risks and costs such as slow payments.

The technology for the AgriDigital platform can also be used to provide grain buyers with financing options.

Weston said that the blockchain can inform the seller about whether the buyer can pay, giving them the confidence they need to know that they will be paid on time.

“With this new technology, we can remove counterparty risk so that buyers and sellers can operate in confidence as they did in the past.” she said.

The banking industry is one sector that has been experimenting with blockchain. Only recently the French central bank undertook an interbank blockchain experiment, while blockchain is being used to fight cyber crime, and the energy industry is also tapping into the technology.

True potential of blockchain is beyond our belief. It remains to be seen how effective the technology will be, but given its impact in so many other sectors it appears that it will provide the same answers for agriculture too.

Australian Travel Agency Tests Blockchain Bookings

A hotel bookings company based in Australia has developed a blockchain proof-of-concept in partnership with Microsoft.

Using the tech giant’s Microsoft Azure platform as a basis, Webjet created what it described as a platform “to create shared, independent and trustworthy documents”.

The company is live testing its blockchain solution across several of the Web-based services it operates, with an eye to expand over the next year.

Webjet is a public company which trades on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX), a firm that has been experimenting with blockchain applications of its own.

As of now the focus is on growing the scope of the pilot. John Guscic, managing director for Webjet, said in a statement:

We realized facilitating bookings in the travel industry could become an additional business we could enter in the future, and the same technology could also help solve problems outside the travel industry.

Representatives from Microsoft indicated that the core elements of the Webjet project could be applied elsewhere.

By working with Webjet to use our digital platform, together we have created an innovative blockchain solution in Australia that has the potential to not only transform the travel industry but many other industries as well,” Mark Russinovich, Azure chief technology officer, said of the project.

Australia’s Blockchain Solar Power-Trading Suburbs

There is no limit to Blockchain use it seems. A suburb in Fremantle, Western Australia will see its apartment owners to be among the first in the country to trade solar power over a blockchain.

Solar-powered one-bedroom apartments developed by Landcorp, the development arm of the government of Western Australia are reportedly expected to be snapped up by predominantly young dwellers.

These apartment-owners will soon be able to trade their any surplus solar energy over a blockchain developed by Power Ledger, a Perth startup that aims to enable owners of solar panels to sell excess energy.

This beats the conventional model of selling excess energy for a lower feed-in tariff which is then sold at a higher rate from the grid.

As reported by the Australian Financial Review, Landcorp is offering three ‘Gen Y’ apartments that will share 9 KW solar panels between them, along with a large 10KWh battery.

Power Ledger co-founder Jemma Green sees massive potential for harnessing solar energy in Australia with apartments representing a quarter of all dwellings in the country.

More notably, 35% to 40% of all new developments are apartments, which makes for a viable peer-to-peer energy trading ecosystem, if implemented properly.

Power Ledger is already engaging in blockchain-based solar energy trading trials in the country. The local Australian startup picked a retirement village in Busselton, Western Australia, allowing for users to trade excess solar energy amongst each other.

The trial will see Raspberry Pi mini-computers put to use in order to track a house’s energy usage. Energy meters will be fitted at 20 households, along with a communal clubhouse. Actual deployments of the technology are scheduled in 2017 in Victoria and Perth.

New York-based LO3 Energy, a startup which is pushing toward the development of a community microgrid detached from the larger U.S. electricity grid sees blockchain technology to make a telling impact in the energy industry, at a time when there is an increased focus to move away from fossil fuels.

“I think that there are going to be hundreds of blockchain energy companies springing up in the next couple of years. It’s going to be a really interesting time in the energy space.” said Lawrence Orsini, founder at LO3 Energy.

Australia’s Push for the Fintech Race

The RegTech Association has officially launched in Australia and is aiming to aid the regulation technology sector just like fintech is changing financial services.

According to a report from Finder, the Association will promote good corporate practice in compliance management and boost regulatory compliance outcomes.

Matt Symons, co-founder of Red Marker and RegTech Association director, said that the Association is looking forward to aiding partnerships between several Australian financial services stakeholders who they believe could utilize the technology and those creating regtech companies.

He said, “We hope that by bringing them together we can create a bit of an ecosystem in Australia around regtech.”

First Australian RegTech Hackathon

Australia sees its first RegHack DownUnder hackathon take place with the aim of using disruptive Fintech to improve regulatory compliance.

The three-day event, with official partners, Victorian State Government, RMIT University and ADCCA, will specifically focus on issues in Australia’s energy sector.

It will be about how government and regulators function needs to change in order to be aligned with and responsive to new technologies and businesses when they present themselves.

Participants applying to take part in the private event will be leveraging so-called RegTech, a method for using innovate technological solutions to address legacy inefficiencies and other weak points.

“As the RegTech landscape evolves, organizations are asking the questions to better understand how to leverage RegTech to be more effective, efficient and competitive in the marketplace,” the RegHack’s website explains.

The impact of the hackathon could very well prove to be a game changer, providing a new lens for the regulators to view and embrace the changing dynamics of the business world, and start operating in a proactive and forward thinking approach,” he wrote in summary comments following the hackathon.

FinTech Agreement with Indonesia

A deal was inked between the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and Indonesia’s Otoritas Jasa Keuangan (OJK) in Melbourne to enter into a Fintech cooperation agreement in a bid to bolster innovation in the sector.

The agreement will see the two regulators combine to develop and establish a framework that promotes financial services in each other’s markets.

The framework will see a common agreement to share information on new market trends and regulatory questions in the face of new financial innovation. The regulators believe the collaboration will help push development of these innovations in their countries.

ASIC commissioner John Price said:

Many fintech are not constrained by national borders and it is fundamental that we leverage this to share views, exchange information and it is fundamental that we leverage this to share views, exchange information and to discuss some of the challenges that this can create for fintech businesses and the community.

The partnership is particularly notable due to the geographical proximity of both countries and Australia’s Asian neighbor being the largest economy in south-east Asia.

The ASIC announcement points to FinTech developments in a number of traditional financial and banking sectors including payments and transfers, insurance, retail banking and markets, lending and finance, among others.

Peer-to-peer lending, crowd funding, investment and financing are all services already being provided by FinTech developers.

OJK chairman Pak Miliaman added:

“I hope this further collaboration will be able to promote innovation in our financial service markets and to deepen engagement that can be used for financial sector development in both countries.”

He also introduced relaxed regulations for peer-to-peer FinTech firms earlier this year alongside a sandbox for that will see startups test their services under regulatory supervision.

Australia also threw out the rulebook late last year, welcoming industry firms to friendlier shores.

Notably, the ASIC has favored FinTech innovations, particularly with blockchain technology. In March 2016, the regulatory body’s commissioner encouraged regulators around the world to “start thinking about” blockchain technology.

Fintech Bridge to the UK

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) and the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) have also signed a collaborative agreement to enable and support the flow of financial technology development and innovation between Australia and the United Kingdom.

The CBA is an Australian multinational bank with a presence in the United Kingdom. The aim is to assist Australian FinTech companies and startups to gain entry into the UK market. The United Kingdom is frequently seen as the world’s hub for financial technology innovation.

As a part of the agreement Australian FinTech companies will gain access to a temporary space for up to three months in CBA’s London Innovation Lab, easing their entry into the UK and European markets.

David Watson, senior commissioner for trade and investment at Austrade UK sees the collaboration bringing notable benefits for FinTech firms in both regions.

According to Watson, it gives Australian firms the opportunity to access the latest fintech in CBA’s innovation Lab and to immerse themselves in the world’s leading fintech market, while UK companies can tap into Australia’s expertise through networking sessions.

The collaboration will also support trade missions from Australia and the UK to visit each other, alongside introducing industry startups and companies that seek expansion, to each other’s respective markets.

With the collaboration, Australian companies will be benefited in gaining access to the UK market. Startups and companies will also receive mentoring to establish a foothold in the UK and European markets, which is great for Fintech in both the countries.

“By joining the global innovation ecosystem, our fintech startups increase their opportunities to turn their ideas into global businesses,” Watson added.

Cyber Scams On the Rise in Australia

Wherever the money goes, ponzis must follow. Bitcoin is no different. Cybercriminals are always finding new ways to extort money from unsuspecting internet users.

Recently, Australian internet users are being targeted over Facebook by scammers posing as government employees.

As per the reports, on Australian news media platforms, the cybercriminals are impersonating representatives from big brands, government agencies, utilities and telecom companies and even the taxation department.

The scammers are said to be leveraging technology to send out mass mailers and make calls in bulk over VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), targeting potential victims.

Scammers impersonating representatives from the Australian Taxation Office have allegedly collected over $1 million from various residents in the form of iTunes gift cards.

According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the victims were asked by scammers to buy and share iTunes gift cards and other prepaid cards worth thousands of dollars each, to settle tax debts. The victims were threatened of consequences, including arrest if they don’t follow the instructions.

The total losses due to similar scams during the year is said to be a whopping $70 million,out of which Bitcoin payments make a considerable chunk.

The government and law enforcement agencies are trying hard to contain these scams, ranging from the impersonation of government agents, investment schemes, dating and romance scams etc. But the criminals are always a step further, coming up with new ways to defraud people, using innovative payment methods.

Ransomware attacks also figure in the list of scams, where criminals infect the computer with malware that encrypts the contents. In order to gain the decryption key, the victim is forced to pay a ransom in bitcoin.

Very recently we saw wannacry ransomware attack where hackers infected windows computers and demanded payment in Bitcoin.

In the light of increasing scams, internet users are advised to follow safe browsing practices and to conduct a thorough background check before investing or sending money in any form to anyone.

When dealing with anyone claiming to be from a government department, it is advisable to verify and report such individuals to the concerned department. Important to keep in mind that government institutions and tax office never ask individuals to settle their tax debts in the form of prepaid cards or bitcoin.

Australia To Lead International Blockchain Standards Initiative

Standards Australia is the group that will lead the charge for establishing international blockchain standards.

Dr. Bronwyn Evans, CEO of Standards Australia, mentioned the group will be responsible for supporting interoperability among systems. There will also be a focus on privacy, terminology, and most importantly, security.

Evans further added:

Leading the ISO blockchain committee will place Australia in the perfect position to help inform, shape and influence the future direction of international standards to support the rollout and deployment of blockchain technology. This exciting initiative will put Australia at the centre stage of global innovation and digital disruption.

Everyone in the world seems convinced the blockchain will shape up the financial industry. But its use cases extend far beyond banking and payments as well.

International standards can help nurture development across different industries. Establishing those guidelines, however, will require a lot of international collaboration.

Australia wants to be the leading global player in blockchain standards development. While they are not the only ones who want to play a role of significance, somebody has to be the first.

For now, a total of 36 countries has agreed to be part of this committee. Among the other members are the US, Estonia, Japan, and Korea. It is positive to see Asia being represented at the early stages.

These international blockchain standards will allow for greater market certainty and confidence. They will also support regulation of financial transactions, asset transfers, and commodity exchanges. A unified set of guidelines can foster innovation in the world of distributed ledgers.

However, these rules will be difficult to enforce upon open blockchains, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum.

Buy Bitcoin in Australia

There are many ways you can buy Bitcoin in Australia.

1. CoinJar

CoinJar is the most well-known Australian Bitcoin platform and broker. You can purchase bitcoin via BPAY for a 1% fee.

2. BuyaBitcoin

BuyaBitcoin is Australian Bitcoin broker. You can use the service to buy bitcoin via cash deposit for 4.9% fees. Your coins are usually delivered within an hour.

3. Independent Reserve

Independent Reserve is an Australian Bitcoin exchange, geared towards traders and corporations. You can fund your account with EFT, SWIFT, POLi, or Crypto Capital. All these methods are free above certain minimums.

4. Coin Loft

Coin Loft is an Australian Bitcoin broker. You can buy bitcoin with cash deposit, credit card, Flexepin, and POLi. If you purchase with cash, your coins are delivered within an hour.

5. CoinCorner

CoinCorner is a Bitcoin exchange based on the Isle of Man. They cater to users in the UK, Europe, Canada, Australia, and certain African, Asian, and South American countries. CoinCorner users may purchase bitcoins with SEPA, credit/debit card, GBP bank transfer, and now Neteller too.

6. Coinbase

Residents of Australia can use Coinbase to purchase bitcoins with a credit card or debit card. The fees are 3.99% per purchase, and your bitcoins are delivered instantly.

If you purchase more than $100 USD (~130 AUD) worth of bitcoins through this link then you get $10 USD (~13 AUD) worth of bitcoins for free!

7. CoinMama

CoinMama allows customers in almost every country to buy bitcoin with a credit or debit card. They charge an ~8% fee on each purchase.

If buying less than $150 worth of bitcoins, you won’t need to verify your identity. This convenience makes small purchases quick and easy.

8. BTCC

BTCC Exchange is a Bitcoin exchange based in Hong Kong and traded in USD.

9. LocalBitcoins

LocalBitcoins is an escrow service which also helps to match bitcoin buyers and sellers. The most common method of payment for purchase is cash deposit. However, users may advertise trades for whichever payment method they prefer.

Buying bitcoins via an in-person meeting, secured and facilitated by LocalBitcoins, may be one of the fastest and most private ways to buy bitcoins in any country.

10. Bitcoin ATMs

There are a total of 13 Bitcoin ATMs in Australia. If you happen to be near one of them, you could buy Bitcoin using cash.

Bitcoin ATMs can be a quick and easy way to buy bitcoins and they’re also private. That convenience and privacy, however, comes with a price; most ATMs have fees of 5-10%.

Spend Bitcoin in Australia

Plenty of merchants in Australia are willing to give you products/service in exchange of your Bitcoin.

1. The Tomcar

A company making designer off road vehicles.

2. Frisk Small Bar

A place to chill with a drink.

3. Visible Online Marketing

A digital marketing company that accepts Bitcoin as a payment.

4. Fasttech

All your tech needs on your fingertips.

5. The Old Fitzroy Hotel

With over 100 years of history, this family-owned gem is hidden in the back streets of Woolloomooloo. Boasting Australia’s only pub theatre, the Old Fitz Theatre seats 60, showing quality performances of classics and contemporary independent theatre.

6. Joostice

Fresh Cold-Pressed Raw Locally Sourced Juice.

7. Since I Left You

Located in the heart of the Sydney CBD in a heritage-listed storehouse, SILY pairs a welcoming relaxed feel with old-school decadence and charm.

8. Fountain of Being

Fountain of Being is a 100% Australian owned and operated Online Natural Health Store based in Sydney.

9. Artof2

Commercial Lifestyle Portrait Photography.

10. Melbourne Climbing School

All about rock climbing in the outdoors.

Conclusion

Lately Australia has been illustrating that it has what it takes to be the number one location for fintech startups to establish themselves.

Only last year the nation was recognized as a world leader in the sector with nine companies listed in the FinTech 100 list.

The country has been known for its positive reception for new firms to grow. It is now pushing the fintech agenda, which is changing how the finance sector operates, presenting challenges and opportunities.

It is clear that the growth of the fintech industry is one of Australia’s main priorities, which is evident through its Innovation Hub that works with financial technology startups that are working with regulators.