Regulation needed as digital assets play a bigger role

  • By Zilla Efrat

Digital assets could contribute $68.4 billion to the Australian economy and employ more than 200,000 people by 2030, according to a new report.

The report, commissioned by digital infrastructure provider Mawson Infrastructure Group and compiled by EY, states that digital assets will contribute $2.1 billion to the economy and employ 11,600 people in 2021.

It adds that digital assets may have even reduced electricity price volatility and assisted in the transition to renewable energy this year.

“Digital assets and infrastructure are critical ingredients to Australia’s digital and economic future,” says James Manning, CEO and founder of Mawson.

“We are at a crossroads. As an industry, we desperately need a fit-for-purpose policy and regulatory framework to provide greater security and certainty to consumers and the crypto industry.

“The Bragg Report recommendations, in particular, represent a significant coming together of industry, regulators and government. The Bragg recommendations, if adopted, will revolutionise the Australian crypto sector and improve consumer protection, therefore driving innovation, confidence and growth in the sector.”

EY Oceania strategy and transactions partner, Steve Brown, agrees. “Overall, our analysis finds that the cryptocurrency and digital asset sector could provide significant economic benefits to the Australian economy moving forward, but that Australia does not yet have fit-for-purpose regulatory systems to promote certainty for new businesses, investors and consumers in the digital asset space,” he says.

“Well-designed standards, robust regulation and the right policy settings will be needed to drive innovation while managing unfamiliar services and providing proper safeguards. This will be pivotal to unlocking benefits to businesses and consumers as financial markets become more dispersed, more digital and more crypto-intensive.”

The report, titled Cryptocurrency and The Distributed Digital Economy in Australia, was commissioned in response to the Senate Committee final report titled Australia as a Financial and Technology Centre, released in October.

Senator Andrew Bragg chaired the Senate Select Committee’s inquiry. In the final phase of the inquiry, the committee examined the regulation of digital assets in Australia, “de-banking” practices affecting Australian fintechs and other businesses, and several other issues relating to Australia's position as a technology and financial centre. Its final report makes 12 recommendations across these areas.