The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (Austrac) officially registered 246 cryptocurrency exchanges. Members of the Australian regulatory industry called this event the key step towards legitimizing crypto-assets. The registration process includes performing background checks and other anti-money laundering procedures on the entities involved.
Last year Australia introduced amendments to its anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism laws, resulting in cryptocurrency exchanges appeared before necessity to register with Austrac, the main agency of financial monitoring of the country.
According to the report, published on 31 January, the agency also led the investigation against 11 of cryptocurrency platforms, two of which in the end was denied registration. From April 2018, when amendments to the mentioned laws entered into force, the exchanges had to comply with the new rules Austrac, including to report suspicious transactions that could be linked to money laundering and the financing of terrorism. The report quoted an employee of Austrac, which stated:
"We'll go to drastic measures in case of detection of accidental or intentional violations of the rules".
The regulators of Australia think that obligatory registration of cryptocurrency exchanges will provide legitimacy to companies involved in digital currency and also blockchain projects. Phillippa Ryan, a cryptocurrency researcher at the University of Technology Sydney, said that the regulation helped to delegitimiziruet "cowboys and suspicious operators."
She claims that the fraudulent exchanges undermine the public confidence in cryptocurrencies. A series of hacker attacks in crupto industry and losses of millions of dollars has led to the fact that investors began to doubt the security of their assets on the stock exchanges. Ryan, who has links with the Australian Digital Commerce Association, is looking forward to the moment when the government will change their attitude towards cryptocurrencies.
The decision of the Austrac could also be caused by other factors. For example, last year, the Australian regulatory body responsible for market competition, has received more than six thousand reports of potential fraud with virtual currencies. It was reported that the losses amounted to more than 9.5 million dollars, with most of this amount were funds of investors. In addition, there were reports about the ICO, some of which turned out to be financial pyramids.
Adrian Przelozny, head of local cryptocurrency trading platform Independent Reserve, said:
"We have always felt that regulation would help the cryptocurrencies enter the mainstream. A couple of years ago, anyone could run their own exchange, and not always such a platform could ensure the safety of own customers. Consumers needed to spend time learning a particular exchange to understand whether to trust her or not."