SYDNEY – Australia will establish a licensing framework for crypto exchanges and a retail central bank digital currency for the biggest overhaul of its payment industry that is worth A$650 billion a day ($463 billion).
“We’re bringing Australia into the digital age with the biggest shake-up to Australia’s payment systems in 25 years.
The country also plans to widen its payment laws to include other online service providers like Alphabet Inc’s Google, Apple Inc, and Afterpay Ltd (buy now pay later), to end their operations working without supervision.
“If we do not reform the current framework, it will be Silicon Valley that determines the future of our payment system,” said Treasurer Josh Frydenberg in a statement. “Australia must retain its sovereignty over our payment system.”
With this step, Australia attempts to position itself ahead of global efforts to rule in large tech companies, while going for a more inclusive approach compared to countries like China and India, which have unsupervised, criminalized cryptocurrency.
The rate of people using online transactions has surged in Australia, thanks to the pandemic that shifted people’s lives online.
The data received from the Australian government shows around 55 million online payments have been made in the country every day since half of Australians use cell phones to make online payments. In fact, the percentage of people using online payment methods has increased to 63% this year.
Frydenberg revealed that Australia would start consultation on setting up a licensing framework for cryptocurrencies from the first quarter of 2022, permitting the sale and purchase of digital currencies in a controlled environment.
“The government would also consult on regulating businesses that hold crypto assets on behalf of consumers, and on the feasibility of a central bank digital currency”, he added.
Jack Dorsey, the founder of Square Inc, a digital payment company that announced acquiring Afterpay earlier this year, said, “it supported any approach that takes into account consumer benefits from the innovation and competition Afterpay has brought to the market”.
Apple refused to respond, while Google had not answered immediately.
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