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Australia’s ASIC lays out roadmap for safeguarding consumers from digital assets scams

The Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) is looking to focus more on protecting consumers from digital assets and cyber crimes. The market regulator has published part of its “Corporate Plan” for 2022-2026, highlighting digital assets regulations as part of its core strategic projects for 2022-2023. 

In the document published by the office of ASIC Chair Joseph Longo, the regulator stated that it recognizes the changing regulatory climate with the introduction of innovations. These innovations, which include digital assets, have come with new threats to investors.

The ASIC states that it is committed to taking action to protect investors from these harms, especially the ones posed by digital assets. However, it intends to do this in a way that will not drive away innovation.

“ASIC will take action to protect investors from harms posed by crypto-assets that fall within our remit. We are committed to using the full range of our powers to preserve the integrity of the Australian financial markets,” the report said.

A few actions it intends to take include supporting the development of an effective regulatory framework focused on consumer protection in collaboration with the Department of the Treasury, taking enforcement actions to protect consumers, and supervising Product Disclosure Statements.

The ASIC added that it plans to implement a regulatory model for digital assets exchange-traded products (ETPs), raise public awareness of risks inherent in the digital assets market, and work with domestic and international peers to develop an international policy regarding digital assets and DeFi.

Australia roiled by digital assets scams

The report comes at a time when Australia is experiencing a surge in scam cases tied to digital assets. The ASIC notes that Australians lost more than $242 million to various investment scams in the first half of 2022 alone, with more than 4,730 of crypto investment scams reported.

In a recent statement, Longo noted that the ASIC plans to carry out more consumer education outreach as it finds that the majority of digital assets investors were negligent of the risks in the market.

Meanwhile, the Australian Prudential Regulations Authority (APRA) also published a similar perennial digital assets regulations roadmap that it intends to complete by 2025. The APRA roadmap focuses on laying the ground rules for banks and other financial institutions to manage their digital assets’ exposure risks. 

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