Australians are a unique bunch of people. As a nation, they are law-abiding and follow the rules. Crime is low; most people pay their taxes and obey the speed limits. But when it comes to matters of opinion, they will not be told what to think.
This theory is borne out by the latest global stats on cryptocurrency adoption for 2023. Let’s have a look at the main headlines relating to crypto in Australia over the past 12 months. First, we had the major banks limiting or, in some cases, completely blocking transfers to crypto exchanges. That was a knee-jerk reaction to the FTX collapse. Then, the long-awaited bill on crypto regulation finally came up for discussion in the Australian Senate – and was thrown out in its entirety.
How have the Australian masses reacted? By buying into crypto in record numbers. What might have scared people away in most countries has only piqued interest in Australia.
The Most Crypto-ready County
Researchers at HedgeWithCrypto recently published results from a global study, which found that despite the prevarications of lawmakers and banks, adoption of crypto has more than doubled in the past three years, rising from eight percent in 2020 to 22 percent in 2022 and an estimated 25 percent today.
This was converted by formula to give Australia a “crypto readiness” rating of 7.3 out of 10. The only other nation to hit seven was the USA at 7.0, while Brazil was in third at 6.81.
Aussie Adoption Means Casino Gaming and Online Spending
Part of the reason that Australians take a seemingly fearless approach to crypto lies in the way they use it. In other parts of the world, and especially Europe, crypto is typically held as part of an investment portfolio. It is viewed through the same lens as stocks or unit trusts, and volatility is a major concern.
Sure, there are Australian investors who do the same thing and have the same concerns. But there is more of an inclination in Australia to use Bitcoin, Ethereum, and the rest in the way they were originally intended and as a substitute for fiat currency. When you first do so, there is a feeling of being cut loose that one can imagine is similar to an astronaut going for a maiden spacewalk. But experience shows that using Bitcoin and altcoins for everyday transactions takes away a lot of the pain and hassle, especially when online.
Let’s look at online casinos, for example. Playing the pokies is an Australian national institution, and doing so online is the simplest way unless you have an actual casino right on your doorstep. At most Australian casino platforms, you can start playing with a $10 minimum deposit. That’s fine, but you’ve still got to transfer the $10 to the casino.
That means filling out personal information, bank account details, and home address – and then hoping that the gambling regulator doesn’t issue some sort of blocking order on the bank. After all that, you have to wait. Bitcoin casino playing throws all of that out of the window. All you usually need is a username, a phone number or email address, and your Bitcoin wallet details. As well as the privacy aspect, there is the benefit of instant transactions that are cost-effective and secure.
Most of these benefits hold true for other types of online transactions, too. Australians are using Bitcoin to pay for internet service provision, movie and music streaming services, and even e-commerce purchases.
Banks and Lawmakers Will Catch up in Time
From a regulatory point of view, crypto is somewhat bogged down in Australia right now. Andrew Bragg’s bill on crypto regulation was two years in the making and survived approximately two minutes of Senate scrutiny. It was something anyone could see coming from a mile away and was as much down to political affiliation as the actual merits of the bill. Rest assured, the framework will be put together, and Bragg’s bill will ultimately underpin it, but it is going to take time.
Likewise, the stance adopted by the banks was inevitable – as soon as one moved, the rest of the big four were always going to follow suit. But here, too, the ice is melting. ANZ bank, which was behind last year’s Stablecoin launch, took a major step forward last month when it announced a partnership with Chainlink for the facilitation of blockchain transactions. The transaction was a simple one but could prove momentous. Sebastian Sinclair from Blockworks said it “signifies increasing harmony between the global financial system and the digital assets industry.”
That’s certainly something that has been in short supply over recent months. Not that average Australians care, however. They will just continue to do what they are doing until the banks and the regulators catch up.