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Monday, 09 March 2015 16:02

OZ finance sector to ‘revolutionise’ global banking with Bitcoin?

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Experts at a Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand debate have discussed digital currencies and suggest the OZ finance sector could go big globally with Bitcoin.

Those experts included Lee White, CEO of Chartered Accountants Australia & New Zealand, with the organisation hosting Ronald Tucker, Chairman of the Australian Digital Commerce Association; Leon-Gerard Vandenberg, founder of Future Capital Bitcoin Fund; and Anthony Klein, Senior Tax partner at PwC.

The audience at the debate heard that Australia, if it takes appropriate regulatory steps in the near future, is ‘well placed’ to be a regional or even world leader in digital currencies and the wider ‘fintech’ industry.

The panel of experts stated that Australian Banks and the financial services industry has a unique opportunity to contribute to Bitcoin, the first truly global currency, being widely adopted.

This means that Australian banks and financial institutions ‘face a unique opportunity to be involved from inception in the revolution of the banking and financial services sectors in the developing world.’

We’re told that it is estimated ‘half of all adults worldwide do not have access to basic financial services’ with the World Bank citing the reasons for this as "poverty, the cost, the travel distance and the necessary paperwork to open an account."

Because smart phones are become increasingly affordable, ownership in developing nations is skyrocketing, apparently presenting ‘the Australian financial services sector with a significant opportunity to offer premium banking services to the worlds' unbanked via mobile phones and digital currencies such as Bitcoin.’

We’re then told that ‘Bitcoin is the perfect tool to help individuals in developing nations achieve financial inclusion and bring them one step closer to economic equality.’

The aforementioned panel of experts stated that ‘Australian Banks and the financial services industry has a unique opportunity to contribute to Bitcoin, the first truly global currency, being widely adopted.’

After all, there are billions of people who do not have access to banking infrastructure and who are not served by traditional "brick and mortar" companies.

And with digital currency being a disruptive technology platform that could change the financial system as we know it, we’re told this provides access ‘to a significant new markets for both existing and new innovative players in the Australian financial services sector.’

Panellist Ronald Tucker, Chairman of the Australian Digital Commerce Association said: "With over 2 billion people without bank accounts, digital currency and the platform it uses could directly enable them to trade using a digital currency such as Bitcoin and a payment system that is instantaneous and low cost. All they will need is a mobile phone."

Lee White said: "The Australian financial services industry already punches well about its weight globally and our regulatory landscape is the envy of the world. The challenge will be to make digital currency easy for Joe Public to use. Whichever county is the first to settle on a regulatory framework will benefit for decades to come."

A Bitcoin infographic is on the topic is available here (PDF Link), while you’ll find a detailed 40-page free PDF document entitled ‘Futureinc Digital Currency’ here, and a Digital Currency opinion piece (PDF Link) from Rob Ward here

Some stats from the Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand poll of its 100,000 members and the wider business community on digital currency include:

1. Do you think that digital currencies will be widely used in 2025?
Yes: 67%
No: 22%
Don’t know: 11%

2. What do you think the main challenge is for digital currencies?
Little understanding of the currency: 28%
Lack of international definition/agreement on what digital currency is: 26%
Link to money laundering and terrorism: 23%
No regulation/insurance: 23%

3. Do you think that digital currency could impact considerably on accounting and audit?
Yes: 75%
No: 15%
Don’t know: 10%

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.