What's Happening with Bitcoin in Australia?

Bitcoin's global appeal is seen in Australia's embrace of bitcoin

Bitcoins in space

One of the more interesting aspects of bitcoin is the global appeal and usage of the virtual currency.  Often times, when you’re located in the United States, you encounter people who think that bitcoin is no longer active or that it’s only a resource for ISIS or drug dealers.  People will warn me that the United States government will just regulate it and American businesses will control it, so why should I be interested in it?

This type of thinking is laughable as the reality is that bitcoin has no national boundaries and its entire structure makes it something that can’t be controlled or owned by one country or one company.   This “America focused” thinking will distort one’s understanding of the virtual currency’s impact and promise.

This becomes clear when you begin to look beyond American shores and see how other countries are using and addressing bitcoin.

Bitcoin in Australia

Some of the more interesting news and trends about bitcoin have been coming from Australia.  Like other countries, the history of bitcoin in Australia has had its ups and downs.

In October of 2013, an Australian based bitcoin wallet provider lost over $1 million AUD worth of bitcoins.  The company, Input.io was hacked with a loss of 4100 bitcoins.  This unfortunate incident impacted Australia in much the same way as other countries – government and regulators felt the need to step in and understand how to protect people from these bitcoin related incidents.

Australian government agencies have been some of the more active global monitors of bitcoin.  Concerns about links between bitcoin and criminal activity have led the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (Austrac), to track each conversion transaction conducted regarding bitcoin, into or out of the country.

 

"Australia is very fortunate among its international counterparts, in that we are one of the few countries which currently collects all international funds transfers, into or out of Australia," John Schmidt, CEO of Austrac, said.

Australian banks have also been active in monitoring and regulating bitcoin as evidenced by their recent shutdowns of bitcoin companies. Whether their reasons focus on their concern about competition or potential criminal intent, there have been at least 17 Australian bitcoin companies receiving shutdown letters from banks, with 13 already having their accounts closed

However, the Australian government, to its credit, has not fallen in lockstep with the banks on this matter.  In fact, some in the government see this as a blow to competition. Nationals Senator Matthew Canavan is seeking an investigation into the matter as he has concerns that these moves are competing with emerging businesses and impacting their potential economic growth. 

Subsequently, The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is investigating why Australian banks are closing the accounts of Bitcoin businesses

The Australian markets have been supportive of bitcoin and in 2014, Australian multi-service bitcoin company digitalBTC made history as the first cryptocurrency-focused company to trade on a major mainstream stock exchange.

Besides the many recent political and governmental actions related to bitcoin in the country, it also has an active and knowledgeable user base as seen by activity on message boards, Facebook,  and the Bitcoin Association of Australia.

Australia is an example that beyond American shores, the world is recognizing the impact that bitcoin can have on business and economic growth.  They’re not the only one as we’ll also follow what other countries are doing regarding bitcoin.