Bitcoin: Consumer protection and regulatory challenges
Date of this Version
This article argues that there is at present no comprehensive and clear legal protection for Australian consumers acquiring bitcoins and/or transacting with bitcoins for goods or services.The unique nature of bitcoin as a cryptocurrency means that it is not always easy to bring bitcoin within existing legal frameworks, such as the sale of goods legislation and legislation relating to financial products and financial services. Nevertheless, consumer protection may be available under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) and the Australian Consumer Law (2010). Important protections offered to bank customers and credit card users are however not available, as there is no right of charge back and the ePayments Code, Code of Banking Practice and Financial Ombudsman Services do not generally apply to bitcoin transactions. The regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies should be revisited, as they are unlikely to disappear, and piecemeal development of regulation may lead to legal incoherence. Regulation should however not restrict developments in blockchain technology because of its wide-ranging benefits.
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