Joe Longo, chair of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, or ASIC, spoke at the Australian Financial Review Super and Wealth Summit on Nov 22 at the Fullerton Hotel in Sydney.
The rise of crypto, he said, has been “nothing short of phenomenal, and impossible to ignore.”
As a corporate and markets regulator, Longo admitted to a certain fascination with decentralized autonomous organizations, or DAOs. He said that they present certain challenges for national regulators like ASIC:
“To paraphrase a concept familiar to corporate lawyers, to whom does ASIC turn to ascertain the directing mind and will of a DAO? It is not clear who is accountable if things go wrong, or don’t go as intended or anticipated. Nor is it clear how a DAO itself can be held accountable in a court of law.”
Longo recognized the high consumer demand for crypto products and services in Australia, and noted that ASIC still has important decisions to make with respect to policy on the crypto space, “Wherever we land from a policy perspective […] crypto is on our doorstep, here and now, and being driven by extraordinary consumer and investor demand.”
While his comments included caution for investors, the chair saw that the recent entrance of Commonwealth Bank to the crypto market by offering crypto trading functionality to its app users was an important step to recognize in the evolution of crypto markets:
“The fact [that] Australia’s largest bank is already proposing a means of crypto-exposure for its retail customers is telling. Yes, it’s only a pilot project, but the overall direction is clear. This debate is no longer on the fringes of the financial services industry.”
Australia’s interest in the blockchain space seems to have increased over the course of recent months. On Friday Nov 19, the CEO of the country’s Commonwealth Bank said that he is more concerned about missing out on the rise of this nascent technology than with any supposed risks relating to adoption. Back on November 2, Australia’s Senate spoke glowingly of the industry, praising the nation’s crypto advocates for their willingness to embrace regulation.