Blockchain Australia’s New CEO Advocates for Faster Crypto Regulation, Criticises US Approach

June 28, 2023

By Anjali Kochhar

Blockchain Australia, the leading crypto industry body in the country, has announced Simon Callaghan as its new CEO, with a vision to expedite the regulatory process for cryptocurrencies. Callaghan aims to steer Australia’s crypto rulemaking by taking cues from countries like the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, and Singapore, rather than following the regulatory enforcement approach of the United States.

As the former digital assets program lead for Cambridge University and co-founder of corporate service provider MOOPS Tech, Callaghan brings a wealth of experience to his new role. While previously serving as the Asia lead for crypto lender Celsius, he parted ways several months before the firm’s collapse. Callaghan has also briefly worked at crypto lender Vauld.

Callaghan’s appointment comes after nearly a year of uncertainty following the departure of former CEO and industry advocate Steve Vallas in July 2022. With the CEO role temporarily filled by Laura Mercurio, who left shortly after due to a difference of vision, Australia’s blockchain industry has been without a strong advocate for nearly a year.

Representing the association’s 112 members, including prominent names like Binance Australia, Circle, Ripple, and Mastercard, Callaghan emphasises the need for clearer regulation in order to provide businesses with defined boundaries to operate, foster technological advancements, and create job opportunities.

Contrary to American regulators and the Biden administration, the Australian government has not adopted a hardline stance on cryptocurrencies. Callaghan believes the government’s cautious approach is beneficial and highlights the ongoing “token mapping exercise” conducted by the Treasury to classify various digital assets ahead of future legislation, which is not expected until at least 2024.

Drawing inspiration from countries such as Singapore, Hong Kong, and the United Kingdom, which strive to strike a balance between innovation and consumer protection in their regulatory schemes, Callaghan stresses the benefits that cryptocurrencies bring to technology, innovation, job creation, and the broader financial sector.

In June, reports surfaced indicating that the Hong Kong central bank has been pressuring major banks to accept crypto exchanges as clients as part of its efforts to attract international crypto firms and investors. Callaghan praises this approach, citing it as an example for legislators to consider.

Callaghan also addresses recent actions by two major Australian banks that have imposed restrictions and blocks on certain payments to local crypto exchanges, citing concerns over financial scams. He emphasises the importance of evaluating data and avoiding blanket categorisations of all crypto-related activities as scams. Callaghan has already scheduled meetings with the banks in the coming weeks to gain a better understanding of their positions.

With Simon Callaghan taking the helm as CEO, Blockchain Australia aims to work closely with regulators, industry stakeholders, and financial institutions to shape crypto regulations that foster innovation, protect consumers, and support the growth of the blockchain industry in Australia.

About the author

Anjali Kochhar covers cryptocurrency stories in India as well as globally. Having been in the field of media and journalism for over three years now, she has developed a sharp news sense and works hard to present information that goes beyond the obvious. She is an avid reader and loves writing on a wide range of subjects.

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