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Australian Federal Court Backs ASIC in Landmark BPS Financial Case

The Australian Federal Court has mostly sided with the country’s market watchdog, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), in its lawsuit against BPS Financial Pty Ltd (BPS). This case centers on BPS’s Qoin scheme. According to the court’s findings, BPS unlawfully operated under Judge J Downes’ decision on Friday.

The court’s verdict didn’t consider the 10-month period during which BPS served as an approved representative for PNI Financial Services Pty Ltd. This company is licensed for non-cash transactions, as per ASIC’s records.

ASIC’s legal battle

ASIC’s legal battle with BPS started in 2022. ASIC sued BPS, arguing that the entire Qoin project—the token, blockchain, and wallet—should be considered a financial product and thus require a license. ASIC tried to argue that the Qoin Blockchain and Qoin Wallets were part of one big plan. But the court didn’t see it that way.

The court ruling mentioned that acquiring Qoin via its blockchain and the registration process for businesses were not a part of the payment mechanism. This ruling is significant because it rejects ASIC’s effort to label the complete blockchain as a “financial product” under Australian law.

Michael Bacina, Chair of Blockchain Australia and a Digital Assets Lawyer, emphasized that the court’s decision recognized blockchain as a base technology, distinct from its legal usage implications.

After the verdict, the court asked ASIC and BPS to discuss and settle the remaining matters, including deciding on penalties. These discussions are set for later this month. It’s important to remember that cryptocurrency is receiving more attention in Australia.

In May, Binance Australia, a cryptocurrency exchange, told its customers they’d stop handling Australian dollar transactions. This was because of a decision by another company working with them. By July, the ASIC got involved, checking out Binance Australia’s main office.

In response to a major bank collapse, the Australian financial regulator asked local banks in March to regularly share their involvement with cryptocurrency companies. This aimed to discern any potential risks within the banking system due to this involvement with crypto-related entities.

In October, the Australian government introduced a plan to have digital asset platforms follow the same laws as traditional financial service providers. Accordingly, providers of crypto platforms will need to secure a financial services license. They will also be subject to ongoing oversight and regular audits of customer funds.

Blockchain Australia, a group supporting the Blockchain and digital currency industry, has started new plans to combat growing crypto scams and frauds in response to stricter crypto payment rules.

Australian court’s ruling on digital asset platforms

The Australian Federal Court’s recent ruling marks a major change in how digital asset platforms are treated legally. It reminds those working with digital assets like cryptocurrencies to follow the same laws as regular financial service providers.

Despite BPS Financial being in the spotlight, remember the broader implication: every financial player must obey licensing laws.

Even though ASIC faced some challenges, such as their argument about the Qoin project being a financial product being declined, they mostly won. Their triumph in the Unlicensed Conduct Case sets a standard for upcoming regulatory cases in the digital assets world.

This case marks a crucial moment in the conversations about handling digital currencies such as BTC, which have already seen over $1 billion in total transactions.

The court has asked ASIC and BPS to settle the remaining problems, including deciding on penalties. This shows the court’s dedication to detail.

Ultimately, this case emphasizes that the need for fair and constant regulation is clear whether a business works with traditional or digital assets. This case offers a cautionary tale and a guide for all.