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  • Writer's pictureMichael Bacina

Australian Blockchain Week Quotes

Updated: Jun 20

With Blockchain Australia transitioning to the Digital Economy Council of Australia, Blockchain Week 2024 was a huge event for the organisation, and a great opportunity to share industry insights as we move towards a licensing regime and clearer rules of the road for the blockchain industry.

Day 1 of the festivities focused on builders and innovators in the industry and began with Sean White from XDC Network stating it's time for TradFi to meet Web3 halfway:

TradFi is at the point now where it can meet us halfway as an industry with what we're doing in the digital economy space.

This continued with a tax discussion from Shane Brunette from Crypto Tax Calculator who gave a stern warning to those hoping to skirt tax laws:

The industry needs to empower individuals to report accurately. Otherwise the government will be forced to do so.

ASIC's Jonathan Hatch, a senior advisor in ASIC's Innovation Hub, mentioned the industry's growth in his keynote speech:

In the past 10 years we were talking about historically what was happening. Now we are talking about the solutions and how we will help people. Now you are starting to see the maturity of the industry.

Day 2, titled 'Digital Assets: Anchoring the Digital Economy' saw an appearance from Dr Rhys Bollen, the lead of ASIC's digital assets team, who warned the industry to consult legal professionals in light of recent ASIC "test cases" and "evolved" thinking:

When did you last review the tokens that you list on your platform? When was the last time you reviewed the products and services that you are making available? How recently have you consulted with your lawyers about where the law currently sees the most current understanding based on cases over the last six months or so. If you haven't done that in the last four months you need to consider where you are,

Although Dr Bollen stated the keen interest of industry participants to be regulated:

We have a number of crypto and digital asset businesses in our ecosystem and we have many going through the application process.

Day 3's Adaption and Evolution discussions considered, among other things, scams in the industry with a warning from Charis Chan from Chainalysis:

Scammers are seizing opportunities. In a bull market, we do see more scam activity because there is more profit to be made in those times.

Ms Chan also alerted the audience to the scourge of industrial scam farms, including the notorious KK Park in Myanmar.

In addition, CSIRO's Mark Staples raised interesting points regarding Central Bank Digital Currencies:

We haven't seen a lot of use cases which are general retail use like buying coffee. A lot of people are worried that the government will force us to use CBDCs, but actually it might be that Australians won't be allowed to use CBDCs in that way.

And Dr Andrzej Gwidalski from WAWEB3 and ACS says there needs to be careful planning when considering the use of any new form of digital money in the market:

It is more complex when you want to do a deal and trade, and the money needs to speak to each other across borders.

Chris Adamek, director of the Australian Treasury's digital asset policy unit spoke on the upcoming exposure draft:

The digital asset platform reforms have been allocated a drafting spot with The Office of Parliamentary Council (responsible for drafting and publishing Australian laws) that would see the exposure draft released before the end of this year.

Chris Chen of Backpack outlined the regulatory clarity in other jurisdictions:

The EU provides very clear guidance on what is needed, and many of the obligations are not friendly to those with a small budget but it comes down to what you want to do.

Dr Stephanie Bazley from Possible Ventures echoed this sentiment:

I’ve seen a lot of crypto projects choosing a jurisdiction to be able to hire better and reach customers faster because of a better reputation of blockchain in that jurisdiction.

The final day of Blockchain Week 2024 saw the Blockchain Fringe Festival take flight and the latest meeting of the Blockchain Lawyers Forum at our Sydney office with Dr Bollen again representing ASIC, this time for a Chatham House discussion on a range of policy and regulatory issues affecting the crypto industry.

Another successful Blockchain Week in the books featuring a range of high quality discussions and broad engagement across the industry. As Blockchain Australia celebrated its 10th year and transitions to DECA, the industry looks set for another year of rapid change as the technology becomes increasingly integrated with our digital future.

By Steven Pettigrove, Luke Misthos and Michael Bacina


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