ASIC urges Australians to be wary of investing in crypto related financial products


Dec 11, 2020
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) issued a stark warning against investing in crypto- asset- related financial products and services where the provider does not hold an appropriate license.

The Australian regulator warns especially about unlicensed entities with dubious credibility that offer financial products related to the crypto market and promise unrealistic and even guaranteed returns.

“ASIC urges Australians to be wary of investing in crypto- asset- related financial products and services where the provider does not hold an AFS license or an AML”, the Institution says reminding potential investors that “an entity is required to be licensed by the ASIC if they provide financial services (such as advising or dealing) concerning financial products offered in Australia.”

The financial products in question include derivatives such as options, futures, leveraged tokens, binary options and CFDs.

“The sale of binary options to retail clients was recently banned in Australia under an order that will remain in force for 18 months, after which it may be extended or made permanent”, the warning also reads.

Further ASIC also warns the public of an increased number of reported crypto related scams. “Reports of misconduct received by ASIC from March to May 2020 are up 20% compared to the same period last year”, the Commission says.

Even in cases where the entity in question is not an outright scam, ASIC warns that many Australian investors have suffered substantial loses due to excessive leverage levels, platform outages or unfair liquidations.

Earlier this year ASIC introduced leverage restrictions similar to those already in place in other major markets like the EU and the UK.

In its warning ASIC however acknowledges that many major crypto exchanges are taking steps to limit the exposure of Australians to investment products that require licensing in Australia.

“ASIC understands that some unlicensed overseas platforms are taking, or have already taken, steps to prevent Australian clients from accessing these financial products. These steps include removing references and links, placing additional warnings and disclosures on the relevant web pages and apps, and introducing geographically based IP restrictions (geo- blocking). This prevents more Australian consumers from accessing financial products provided by the unlicensed platform”, ASIC notes.
I wonder whether the warnings would be followed by any actual legislative efforts against cryptocurrencies in Australia.