Regulating crypto assets

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THE PAST DECADE has seen extraordinary growth in technological innovation. The emergence of blockchain technology – and more broadly, distributed ledger technology – has led to a range of innovations in areas such as financial services.

These include new ways of raising finance such as initial coin offerings (ICOs); new means of exchange for payment purposes such as cryptocurrencies; new asset classes such as crypto assets (including cryptocurrencies and tokens); and new forms of business, such as decentralised autonomous organisations (DAOs).

Previous columns have considered related issues (see China Business Law Journal volume 7, issue 8: Fintech and smart contracts; volume 8, issue 9: Cryptocurrencies; and volume 12, issue 9: Decentralised autonomous organisations).

As new terminologies and taxonomies have emerged alongside these innovations, presenting challenges for both regulators and regulatory design, this column first examines the definition of crypto assets. It then discusses regulation of crypto assets by reference to the current regulatory framework in Australia and other jurisdictions, and concludes by outlining the current position in mainland China.

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Andrew Godwin

Andrew Godwin previously practised as a foreign lawyer in Shanghai (1996-2006) before returning to his alma mater, Melbourne Law School in Australia, to teach and research law (2006-2021). Andrew is currently Principal Fellow (Honorary) at the Asian Law Centre, Melbourne Law School, and a consultant to various organisations, including Linklaters, the Australian Law Reform Commission and the World Bank.

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