Joe Longo, chair of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), says that cryptocurrencies have reached a point where they can no longer be ignored.
At a speech to the AFR Super & Wealth Summit, Longo says that crypto’s rise to prominence has been nothing short of phenomenal, and “impossible to ignore.” He addresses statements from Australian senator Andrew Bragg, who recently asserted that for too long, “banks have cast aside cryptocurrency as an illegitimate fringe pursuit.”
“Wherever we land from a policy perspective, Senator Bragg’s committee was right to highlight the fact that crypto is on our doorstep, here and now, and being driven by extraordinary consumer and investor demand.
The implications for consumers are potentially huge. It is almost an article of faith that no one should invest in something they don’t understand. Who among us can say they really understand crypto-assets and cryptocurrencies?”
Longo seemed to be careful not to be overtly optimistic nor pessimistic about the rise of crypto. Instead, the chairman went on to highlight the significance of the new industry, and the need for regulators to decide how to react. According to him, many crypto assets are currently not to be considered “financial products, which makes it difficult for financial advisors to offer counsel.
He asks, “What can they do when clients are banging down the door wanting to divert their savings into Ethereum or Dogecoin, a currency originally conceived as a joke?”
Longo hinted that exchange-traded funds ETF do offer some protection and certainty as regulated products on exchanges, but says “for the most part, for now at least, investors are on their own.”
He also highlights the significance of Australia’s Commonwealth Bank (ACB), the biggest in the country, offering crypto services to clients.
“The fact Australia’s largest bank is already proposing a means of crypto-exposure for its retail customers is telling. Yes, it’s only a pilot project, but the overall direction is clear. This debate is no longer on the fringes of the financial services industry.”
Earlier this week, Australia’s $46.8 billion Rest Super fund, announced it would be investing in crypto for its 1.8 million members.