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Australian Regulator Warns Against Cryptocurrency Investments and Plans Laws

Australia's financial watchdog Australian Securities and Investments Commission, is making waves in the crypto space
By Josefina Dipaolo
November 27, 2023

In a significant move, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has heightened its scrutiny of the cryptocurrency market, delivering a stark warning on Friday regarding the risks associated with digital assets. ASIC chair Joseph Longo minced no words, criticizing cryptocurrencies as being "created out of nothing" and highlighting concerns over the transparency and opaqueness of their trading processes.

Longo emphasized the precarious nature of cryptocurrency investments, cautioning against viewing them as equivalent to traditional financial activities such as superannuation, mortgages, or property investment. He expressed worries about investors who might not be able to absorb potential losses in the volatile crypto market. With four legal cases already underway, Longo stressed the need for vigilance, stating, "My key message remains: be careful before you put your money into crypto."

According to a report by an Australian daily, ASIC is gearing up to tighten cryptocurrency laws by 2025, introducing new legislation aimed at addressing the risks associated with digital assets. Longo's skepticism about the entire crypto narrative was evident as he urged caution in navigating the global reach of crypto trading.

Notably, Longo singled out Binance, one of the world's largest cryptocurrency exchanges, for its unclear structure and opaqueness. As Binance grapples with challenges from the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the recent departure of its CEO CZ, Longo questioned the lack of clarity surrounding the exchange's base, stating, "I mean, look at Binance – where are they based? We still don’t know. So, what am I dealing with?"

These warnings and the impending legislation coincide with a surge in interest in the crypto market among Australians. According to the Australian Digital Assets Survey, 2023, over 900,000 Australians are considering entering the crypto market in the next 12 months. Longo emphasized that once the legislation passes, ASIC will receive additional funding to address the challenges posed by cryptocurrencies.

As ASIC takes a firm stance on cryptocurrency investments, urging caution and unveiling plans for stricter regulations, the crypto market finds itself at a crossroads. Longo's skepticism, coupled with the uncertainties surrounding Binance, amplifies the need for both regulatory clarity and investor awareness. With the number of potential crypto investors on the rise, the impending legislation signals a proactive approach by ASIC to mitigate risks and protect investors in this dynamic and evolving financial landscape.

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