On 30 April 2019, Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) released the first of seven “drops” of software code into the “Customer Development Environment”. This marks the beginning of the introduction of the new equities clearing and settlement system, which ASX is developing to replace the existing CHESS system. The new system is based on distributed ledger technology (DLT) and promises to provide customers with access to real-time, synchronised, source-of-truth data.Read More
By Jim Bulling and Andrew Fay
In January 2019, Canada’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, QuadrigaCX, announced that it had lost $180 million of virtual currency, prompting calls for tighter regulatory oversight of the industry.
Canada is home to 18 publicly listed cryptocurrency companies, more than any other jurisdiction in the world. This puts Canada at the heart of the issue, and has also put the Canadian Public Accountability Board (CPAB) on notice. The CPAB, which regulates auditors, has confirmed that it has been reviewing how existing Canadian audit standards apply to the cryptocurrency industry. Canada, like Australia, subscribes to the International Financial Reporting Standards.Read More
In December 2018, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) settled an enforcement action with Wealthfront, one of the industry’s leading robo advisors. This came after Wealthfront made false statements about its software’s ability to implement a ‘tax-loss harvesting’ strategy. Wealthfront failed to properly execute the strategy, resulting in losses to a significant number of clients. Wealthfront ultimately agreed to pay a $US 250,000 penalty.Read More
By Jim Bulling and Luke Camilleri
On 1 February 2019, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) announced its participation in the recently created Global Financial Innovation Network (GFIN). The GFIN is comprised of 29 regulatory bodies from jurisdictions such as Hong Kong, Singapore and the United Kingdom. The GFIN was established to:
- act as a network of regulators to collaborate and share experiences of innovation in respective markets, including emerging technologies and business models, and to provide accessible regulatory contact information for firms;
- provide a forum for joint regtech work and collaborative knowledge sharing; and
- provide firms with an environment in which to trial cross-border solutions.
By Jim Bulling and Elise Hamblin
Fintech lenders must continue to take into consideration the unfair contract terms laws that have applied since 12 November 2016. As set out in a recent ASIC Report 565 “Unfair Contract Terms and Small Business Loans”, unfair contract terms are currently areas of concern for ASIC. To date, ASIC has found that eight lenders have failed to take sufficient steps to comply with their obligations under the unfair contract terms laws.
The Australian Council of Financial Regulators (CFR) today published an Issues Paper reviewing the regulatory regime of stored-value facilities including purchased payment facilities (PPFs). The CFR comprises regulators such as APRA, ASIC and the RBA.
PPFs enable funds to be stored for the purpose of making future payments and include mobile wallet services and prepaid cards. PPF providers must be licensed and supervised by APRA or otherwise rely on an exemption from complying with the legislative requirements. The RBA has declared several class exemptions for PPFs, including the “limited-value facilities” exemption for PPFs with payment obligations of $10 million or under.
To date, PayPal is the only entity licensed and supervised by APRA as a PPF provider and only one entity has obtained individual exemption from the RBA. These results support arguments that the current framework is too complicated, deters potential new entrants and imposes significant compliance costs.
In a statement issued today, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) revealed that it has prevented five Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) from raising capital and will be taking further action in respect of one completed ICO. The ICOs have been put on hold and some will be restructured to comply with relevant laws and regulations. ASIC has also issued a final stop order in respect of a Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) issued by Investors Exchange Limited for units in the New Dawn Fund, which proposed to invest in a range of cryptocurrency assets.
On 1 May 2018, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) released its revised Information Sheet 225 which provides an updated guidance on initial coin offerings (ICOs). The updated report expands its scope to include guidance dealing with other crypto-currency and digital token (Crypto-Asset) businesses.
The Australian Government has authorised a new external dispute resolution (EDR) scheme for financial disputes, the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA). AFCA will replace the current EDR schemes, FOS, CIO and the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal (SCT), to create a ‘one stop shop’ with higher monetary limits for consumer and small business complaints against financial service providers including roboadvisers, marketplace lenders, payments providers and their representatives.
AFCA will commence accepting complaints from 1 November 2018 and any complaints not yet resolved by FOS or CIO will be transferred to AFCA. The SCT will continue to resolve its existing complaints but will not accept new complaints after 31 October 2018.
All Australian financial services licensees and credit licensees with retail clients have an obligation to become a member of AFCA by 21 September 2018. Existing members of FOS or CIO must also retain their existing memberships until further notice.
AFCA will soon seek public comments on the new AFCA Rules and interim funding model. Which will then need to be approved by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.
On 26 April 2018, John Price of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) highlighted in a speech that Australian corporate and consumer laws might still apply to ICOs created and offered from overseas, so long as they were offered and sold to Australian consumers. Mr Price warned that there was an incorrect perception that Australian regulations did not apply to activities engaged from overseas.