Governments and states have been taking different approaches towards bitcoin, with some such as the United Kingdom taking a relatively open-minded stance. Just recently, Australia also showed willingness to accept bitcoin as a regular currency, thanks to the Senate Economics References Committee review that concluded that bitcoin should be treated like any other currency when it comes to Goods and Services Tax (GST).
This is in contrast to an earlier position taken by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), which said last year that bitcoin is “neither money nor a foreign currency“. This was met with opposition by a lot of cryptocurrency startups, some of which sought to relocate operations oversees in anticipation of an industry crackdown.
Bitcoin in Australia
“Without a doubt, the main benefit will be the confidence and certainty that removing a GST will provide to our own digital entrepreneurs, and the foreign businesses who want to set up here,” explained Labor Senator Sam Dastyari. “Most importantly, it will send the message to local tech entrepreneurs that their government is listening to them, and that in itself is a major step forward.”
Financial institutions such as Westpac and ANZ has also been open to cryptocurrency developments, as the banks have been working with Ripple Labs to explore blockchain technology for their internal operations. According to Dastyari, this government acceptance might allow Australia to stay home to several bitcoin innovations.
So far, the review has received responses from Ripple Labs, among 48 other groups and individuals sharing knowledge on cryptocurrencies and related products. “Harmonizing a global standard for digital currencies could provide clarity and an even playing field for technologists and companies that innovate using digital currencies,” Ripple wrote.
The final review is set to be submitted to the Australian senate by August 10, with many bitcoin enthusiasts hopeful that it can set the stage for a positive relationship between the government and innovators.