In an effort to combat money laundering, Australian lawmakers may introduce legislation requiring cryptocurrency providers to provide information about their users and transactions with AUSTRAC.
According to the Australian Financial Review, Nicole Rose, the Chief Executive Officer of AUSTRAC, told the Senate in late May 2021 that regulators were considering imposing a “travel rule,” among other reforms, to address possible difficulties stemming from the expanding use of digital currencies.
Increased transparency of the identity and location of cryptocurrency payments
Ms Rose responded to Labor Senator Raff Ciccone’s question by saying that a travel rule would allow AUSTRAC to have more “sight” into the identities of both the payment and the payee in a bitcoin exchange. Ms Rose thinks that the “development of intelligence” will make it easier for AUSTRAC to identify and punish ransomware operators and other cyber criminals.
This follows predictions from security firm Emsisoft, which predicted that ransomware attacks will cost the Australian economy $1.4 billion in 2020. Ransomware attacks entail a cybercriminal breaking into a computer system (usually that of a business) and threatening to leak sensitive and private information or completely impair the computer system’s functionality unless a ransom is paid. The $1.4 billion in losses is believed to include both the price of paying ransom demands and the related “downtime” as firms are shut down in response to the threat.
Ms Rose reportedly acknowledged that imposing a travel rule would have greater benefits not just in dealing with ransomware attacks, but would also result in AUSTRAC having greater oversight of both the place of origin and ultimate destination of cryptocurrency payments in response to Mr Ciccone’s questioning.
There is a global drive for a travel rule.
There is presently a global drive for countries to follow the Financial Action Task Force’s recommendations for regulating cryptocurrency and combating financial crime, which includes enacting the travel rule.