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Hume says ‘take crypto seriously’

By Fergus Halliday
3 minute read

The minister for financial services has said that cryptocurrencies deserve to be approached with caution rather than fear.

The federal government has issued a fresh call for Australia’s financial sector to embrace the transformative potential of cryptocurrencies and the blockchain.

Speaking at the AFR Super and Wealth Summit earlier this week, federal minister for financial services Jane Hume argued that it was time to accept that cryptocurrencies are more than a fad.

Pointing to a recent Senate committee report that suggested as much as 17 per cent of Australians are investing in cryptocurrency, she made the case that “this is an asset class that has captured hearts and minds, but beyond that  whatever you might personally think  it’s a technology that’s not going away any time soon.”

Ms Hume commended the local financial sector for moving to embrace the innovation and development surrounding blockchain technologies in recent years.

In particular, she called out DeFi as a rapidly evolving area of financial technology that presents huge opportunities for the Australian economy.

“As an industry, and as a government, we need to acknowledge this is not a fad. We should tread cautiously, but not fearfully,” she said.

Ms Hume also called out the Commonwealth Bank of Australia as the first Australian bank to offer consumers the ability to hold and use bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. 

“Decentralised finance underpinned by blockchain technology will present incredible opportunities  Australia mustn’t be left behind by fear of the unknown,” Ms Hume said.

Comparing the rise of cryptocurrencies to other transformative technologies like email, Microsoft Excel and the Apple iPhone, she said that embracing the innovative potential of cryptocurrencies and the underlying technologies driving them would push the Australian economy forward into the future.

“If the last 20 or 30 years have taught us anything, it’s that all innovation begins as disruption and ends as a household name,” Ms Hume concluded.

This isn’t the first time that the federal minister for financial services has told the local sector that cryptocurrencies like bitcoin shouldn’t be dismissed or overlooked. 

Back in May 2021, Ms Hume told the Stockbrokers and Financial Advisers Association annual conference that cryptocurrencies like bitcoin were an asset that would only grow in importance in the future.

“There are more than 4,000 cryptocurrencies in existence from relatively well-known assets like bitcoin and Ethereum to more recent market entrants like Dogecoin. They are volatile and high-risk assets and investors must be aware of these risks,” she said.