The Senate inquiry report into digital currencies (“Bitcoin coming of age“, AFR August 4) is a welcome contribution to a much broader national conversation about regulation in the digital age.
With globalisation in full swing and new technologies coming online every day, the challenge is to ensure our regulatory systems do not unnecessarily impede the entry of new and potentially transformative technologies, while balancing the need for appropriate consumer protection mechanisms.
Senator Sam Dastyari’s digital currency inquiry rightly references the observations of CoinJar, which offers personal accounts for Bitcoin, regarding the relocation of Australian companies to Britain to avoid GST charges on Bitcoin transactions. Whatever you think of digital currencies and whether they should be classed as an intangible asset, CoinJar highlights that if our laws and regulations are not right, then technology businesses, and all the jobs they create, won’t give a second thought to moving to a more favourable and progressive jurisdiction.
The Productivity Commission, investigating regulation flexibility, has suggested that regulators be given the authority to exempt start-up businesses from particular regulatory requirements for a fixed period where those regulations deter such start-ups and the exemption does not threaten consumer, public health and safety, or environmental outcomes.