Australian prudential regulator releases roadmap for cryptocurrency policy

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The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, or APRA, published a letter to regulated entities Thursday setting out risk management expectations and a policy roadmap for the regulation of crypto-assets through 2025. “While activities associated with crypto assets are still relatively limited in Australia, the potential scale and risks of such activities could become significant over time,” chairman Wayne Byres said in the letter.

The letter instructed the regulated entities undertaking activities with crypto assets to engage with their supervisory agencies, and it outlined risk management measures and standards specific to a variety of cases. The foreseen regulatory framework encompassed banking exposure to crypto assets, operational risk and stablecoins.

The agency will consult with international regulators to ensure a consistent approach to crypto-asset operations. It intends to hold consultations with the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) Basel Committee on Banking Supervision this year and next before unveiling the crypto-asset requirements, which will take effect in 2025.

A draft standard for operational risk will be released later this year and go into force in 2024. APRA is working with the other members of the National Council of Financial Regulators to incorporate stablecoins into a proposed regulatory framework for stored-value facilities, with consultations expected next year and a standard coming into force in 2025. In addition, crypto assets may be included in broader reforms kicked off last year.

Blockchain Australia submitted crypto regulation recommendations to the government in July. The association emphasized “examining the work done in overseas jurisdictions” and warned the industry “cannot afford to wait years for regulatory clarity.” Byres announced the coming release of the letter and placed it in the context of the agency’s larger plans in a speech to the American Chamber of Commerce earlier this month. The major Commonwealth Bank of Australia is attempting to expand a trial program to offer crypto services to its 6.5 million customers, but has so far been stymied by regulators.