September 29, 2023 10:08 am

ASIC Gives Trading of Bitcoin, Ethereum ETFs Green Light

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ASIC Gives Trading of Bitcoin, Ethereum ETFs Green Light

By Crypto Global News

Australia’s corporate regulator has given the green light to a range of cryptocurrency-related ETFs, which could see Bitcoin and Ethereum-backed investment funds trading on the ASX in the coming months.

On Friday, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) released a set of guidelines and requirements relating to crypto exchange-traded products, or ETPs, after a series of consultations the regulator has been undertaking since June.

The new guidelines will allow funds to launch exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that invest directly in cryptocurrencies or in crypto-adjacent assets, such as crypto miners and coin exchanges. A number of local funds have recently expressed an interest in launching such offerings in Australia.

ETFs allow investors to purchase various securities, commodities or indices without having a direct exposure to the asset. Investors have been calling for an ETF that tracks the price of major cryptocurrencies as a way for traditional investors to gain exposure to the sector. Last week, the first Bitcoin futures ETF was launched in the US following approval from America’s corporate regulator.

ASIC has been mulling its approval of similar funds for some time, with today’s announcement coming less than two weeks after a major new package of crypto reforms was tabled in parliament by Liberal Senator Andrew Bragg.

Investment firms interested in establishing a Bitcoin ETF will be required to adhere to a set of best practice guidelines – most notably strict rules around asset custody, with ASIC noting that the protection and storage of cryptocurrency private keys – the ‘master password’ which allows access to the assets on the blockchain – was of “critical importance”.

These best practices include storing private keys in ‘cold’ storage – not connected to the internet – and that the wallets in which the keys are stored are subject to “robust physical security practices”. Numerous backups will need to be made and stored in geographically separate locations.

Custodians for crypto assets will also be required to have heightened cybersecurity protocols, and ASIC said it expects funds that offer crypto ETFs to account for some form of compensation for investors if their crypto-assets are lost or stolen.

Funds will also need to apply for an expanded financial services license that specifically permits the custody of crypto assets.

“Crypto assets have unique characteristics and risks that must be considered by product issuers and market operators in meeting their existing regulatory obligations,” ASIC Commissioner Cathie Armour said.

“Crypto assets have unique characteristics and risks that must be considered by product issuers and market operators in meeting their existing regulatory obligations,” ASIC Commissioner Cathie Armour said.

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