Australian Regulators Seeking to Implement Travel Rules for Cryptocurrency

  • Richard Marley
  • May 26, 2021
  • 2 minutes read
  • 284

Australia is looking at the laws that would require cryptocurrency providers to record the information of their customers and their transactions and share the information with the authorities to combat money laundering. 

Chief executive of AUSTRAC, Nicole Rose, disclosed that the financial regulators are also looking at the travel rule amid many possible legal changes to keep up with the digital shift in the currency. According to the travel rule, financial institutions are required to exchange certain information in order to keep a more transparent audit trail. 

Senator Raff Ciccone asked the financial watchdogs regarding the travel rules and ransomware operators. In response to such questions, Ms Rose said, “It gives us visibility of the payer and payee primarily, which at the moment we don’t have. It’s a policy issue for the department. But, we can absolutely see the benefits to the development of intelligence.”

The Australian economy has faced a total loss of around $1.4 billion in 2020 which also includes the loss from the ransom demands and the downtime of networks. Hackers take hold of a network or system and extract sensitive information and then demand money from the company with the threat that their personal data will be made public. 

Mr Ciccone also asked about whether such rules will track ransomware operators to which Ms Rose responded with, “Not just specifically ransomware, but the investigation and intelligence we would produce of where cryptocurrency is being paid for and being paid to.”

“There is a range of different cryptocurrencies. Some are very transparent and they’re the ones we regulate. There are obviously other anonymous cryptocurrencies that are set up offshore that we don’t have visibility of, and I suggest we’re talking about that section of the sector here,” Ms Rose said in reference to an article which mentioned the 199 digital wallets receiving 80 per cent of ransomware funds paid in 2020.

Ransomware attackers and other criminals mostly demand the payment in digital currency and they are quickly able to launder the money by exchanging it from one exchange to another and making the trail of the funds untraceable. This is done to keep the money out of the reach of the law enforcement authorities.