The state of Bitcoin in Australia is strong. The local Bitcoin economy is the healthiest it has ever been. Its newly incorporated custodians – The Bitcoin Association of Australia – plan on keeping it that way.
A talented team of Bitcoiners has assembled and incorporated Australia’s not-for-profit organisation, preserving, protecting and nurturing the community down-under. While, at the same time, forming strong international alliances and regional bonds.
They are currently over-seeing a host of important projects.
The Association’s governing committee consists of entrepreneurs and developers with both breadth and depth of experience. Specifically:
- Martin Bajalan: A B.Sc. in applied mathematics with 14 years experience managing and developing enterprise level software products in payment processing. Martin is developing a trading platform for digital currencies, launched in September 2013.
- Max Kaye: A programmer with a vast array of experience dealing with crypto-based technology; running a NMC/BTC mining pool and experimenting with trustless exchange.
- Adam Poulton: An entrepreneur holding a Degree in Applied Science with a strong interest in money and macroeconomics. Martin is developing a Bitcoin startup, currently in beta, designed to integrate Bitcoin into people’s daily lives.
- Pantelis Roussakis: A digital marketing strategist and consultant for business and government. Pantelis is building the Artbits project. With a view to help artists leverage digital currency, by bypassing the arbitrary penalties imposed by the archaic financial system.
- Bret Treasure: An online marketing consultant and Chairman of the Australian Web Industry Association. Bret brings years of experience with foundations and virtual payment systems.
- Leo Treasure: A long-time active participant in the Bitcoin community; mining, investing and making Bitcoin themed electronic music. Leo is currently importing 25 Lamassu machines into Australia.
- Jason Williams: A developer heavily involved in emerging technologies from their early stages, including cable Internet. Jason is the prime organiser of the Bitcoin Sydney meet-ups. He is also responsible for Australia’s first bricks and mortar Bitcoin establishment and coding their POS.
- Tristan Winters: An agricultural commodities trader holding degrees in law and economics. Tristan is a self-described libertarian. He is actively involved in the Bitcoin community in Australia and Europe, across several projects. Including the libbitcoin implementation of the Bitcoin protocol.
In Australia there exists an excellent opportunity to develop Bitcoin in the Commonwealth and the Asia-Pacific region. This is the Association’s focus.
There has been little in the way of legal guidance thus far. It is certain, however, that authorities are aware of the existence of crypto-currency and are monitoring it closely.
The Association’s Martin Bajalan describes an interesting though not unfamiliar experience establishing an exchange in Australia. The organization in charge of AML/KYC in Australia is called Austrac and generally any financial organization would have to register with them and follow AML policies.
In contacting Austrac, in order to help classify Bitcoin markets as one of the existing categories of financial services, the response from Austrac has been consistent. That is: “Bitcoin is not backed either directly or indirectly by precious metal or bullion and therefore such digital currency is not covered by the AML/CTF Act”.
The Act was created in 2006, with an expiry date of 2013. Bitcoin’s genesis was in the interim. So it is reasonable that the previous act did not cover Bitcoin. Max Kaye of the Association notes that The Act is “outdated” and the Association is dedicated to helping bring it into the modern era “as Bitcoin-positive as it can be”.
The association respects the revolutionary promise of Satoshi’s original protocol. Nevertheless, it is not necessarily averse to engaging authorities, where appropriate. It is certainly a delicate balance to strike.
Exchange and kiosk machines are probably the most difficult part of the regulatory landscapes to navigate. In showing a commitment to maintaining proper compliance, Martin Bajalan, by example, is working with a leading organization in ID verification. The company is approved by the Government and assists in maintaining compatibility with Austrac for AML/KYC regulations.
Overall, the Association’s leadership is capable, bringing hope for peace and progress with Australian regulators.
For now the Australian Foundation will direct its attention in three fundamental directions. Firstly: education, as a means of awakening the people to the importance of crypto-currency. For their lives, their prosperity and the future their children will inherit.
Secondly: the Foundation will, where needed, face regulators confidently. They will no doubt desire to preserve their old and enduring values and institutions. The Association will take them in its capable hands and lead them to the future.
Thirdly: project development. Bitcoin is, fundamentally, an open-source project and the most promising peer-2-peer network on earth. This is its source of strength. The Association will foster projects that capitalize on that strength.
Big government is a concern for Bitcoin globally. It is no different in Australia and the Asia-Pacific region. With capable foundational leadership the Australian Association is facing this peril head-on. While, at the same time, “fostering the natural social structures that could form around an economy based on Bitcoin”, as the Association’s Max Kaye notes.