Blockchain Goes the World – Developments in Australia

A Continent Embraces Cryptocurrency

Acceptance Growing Steadily

Australia, the world’s sixth largest country by total area has only 25 million inhabitants. Still, it is a wealthy country with plentiful resources that include mining exports, telecommunications, banking, and manufacturing. In 2016, Bitcoin made its debut. In only two short years cryptocurrency has enjoyed increased applications. These include commerce in the form of ATMs and exchanges, online gambling, blockchain technology, and mining.   

Merchants and Exchanges in Australia

Australia, as a whole, offers only a few hundred merchants and local exchanges. Many are in South and New South Australia. Some are in limited areas along the coast, including Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sidney, Jervis Bay Territory, Melbourne, and Adelaide. Like most countries, gone are the free-market and local peer-to-peer cryptocurrency exchanges, as merchants and traders in Australia must now register with the government, verify users, report suspicious behavior and transactions over A$10,000, and maintain records for seven years in compliance with money laundering and terrorism financing rules. For cryptocurrency enthusiasts, it’s put a hitch in their getup. On the bright side, Australian officials now recognize Bitcoin as a legitimate foreign currency.

Payment in Bitcoin

Furthermore, Australia is of the world’s most popular tourist destinations and a popular stop between the U.S. and Asia. Therefore, an increasing number of businesses are accepting Bitcoin as payment. Consequently, Brisbane’s airport terminal has become increasingly cryptocurrency friendly. Most stores and restaurants located in the terminal now accept Bitcoin, Ether, and Dash. As for the civilian sector, Melbourne boasts the most merchants and exchanges, including cafes and restaurants, bars and lounges, grocery stores, along with a handful of hotels and small businesses. On the other hand, Sydney offers considerably less options than Melbourne. However, Sydney is also becoming increasingly cryptocurrency friendly.  

Blockchain Down Under

Practical use of Bitcoin in the form of spending and trading is increasing at a healthy pace. Thus, Australia’s interest and application of blockchain technology has exploded. In December 2017, Australian Securities Exchange’s (ASX) made an announcement. ASX would be the world’s first securities exchange to use the blockchain to replace their current equity processing system. The Australian government has allocated AU $700,000 (about $521,000) to its Digital Transformation Agency to explore blockchain applications within government services. And, Australian public research university RMIT has launched an eight-week blockchain course entitled “Developing Blockchain Strategy” designed by RMIT’s Blockchain Innovation Hub in cooperation with Accenture Consulting and fintech hub Stone & Chalk.

Taking A Gamble

In line with this, Australia’s online gambling industry had hoped to adopt more diverse payment options. However, it had the rug pulled out from underneath it when its government took an “antagonistic stance regarding cryptocurrency.” The Australian Financial Review, regional gaming regulator NTRC announced earlier this year, that it’s “intending to issue a formal communique to all sports bookmakers and betting exchange operators licensed in the NT if currently transacting in cryptocurrency (for example Bitcoin, Ethereum and the like) for their wagering operations to immediately cease and desist.” Taking it further, the government has gone so far as to place limits on licensed casinos, poker rooms, and sports books competing with the international online wagering outfits. Moreover, broadcast ads related to gambling with cryptocurrency are also restricted. Businesses unresponsive do not only risk losing favorable tax advantages, but also their licenses. 

Mining

Rounding out Australia’s cryptocurrency industry is mining. IOT Group and Hunter Energy are combing forces to bring a decommissioned coal-fired power plant back to life using the property as a power source. The Redbank Power Plant has been long decommissioned, but Hunter Energy has seized this opportunity hoping to have it back online by early 2019. This, combined with the expansion of Australia’s cryptocurrency free market, the blockchain application and education surrounding it, and the government’s willingness to loosen gambling regulations following a trial period due to end this summer are highly favorable developments. Correspondingly, we could soon be witnessing a historic evolution in Australia’s cryptocurrency industry and economy – though only time will tell.

 

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