Rushing ‘token mapping’ could hurt Aussie crypto space — Fintech founder



Australian crypto entrepreneur and investor Fred Schebesta has described the Australian government’s prioritization of token mapping as “wonderful,” but warns that rushing it could lead to detrimental effects on the economy.

Schebesta’s comments come after Australian Treasurer Jim Chalmers released a statement on Aug. 22 stating that the “treasury will prioritize token mapping work” in 2022 to show how “crypto assets and related services should be regulated.”

Speaking to Cointelegraph, Schebesta believes Australia already has a “fledgling” crypto industry but needs to “align with the other major markets and their regulations.”

Schebesta added that the “intricacies” of token mapping are not clear, and “things are changing as well.”

Schebesta is an Australian entrepreneur and investor — best known as the co-founder of Finder, an Australian comparison website. Schebesta is also a co-founder of crypto investment fund Hive Empire Capital and an advisor for Balthazar, an NFT gaming platform.

He explained that if “we rush” — the token mapping exercise could turn away crypto companies, particularly if there’s a “very different approach” to other countries.

Schebesta stressed that it’s not the time to “rush it out,” but take the time “to just take it easy and really, really do some deeper analysis.”

The token-mapping announcement from Australia’s new Labor government came three months after it came into power, breaking a long silence on how it would approach crypto regulation in the country.

At the time, Treasurer Chalmers said the government wanted to reign in on the “largely unregulated” crypto sector.

“As it stands, the crypto sector is largely unregulated, and we need to do some work to get the balance right so we can embrace new and innovative technologies,” he said. 

Related: Australia’s new government finally signals its crypto regulation stance

While many in the industry lauded the announcement as an “important step” for the industry, some were disappointed that there the country was not “further along” the path to regulatory certainty. 

Australian lawyer Liam Hennessy, partner at Gadens told Cointelegraph that Australia has been at the “forefront of the crypto developments,” but worries that the country is “slowly falling behind the U.K. and U.S.” due to failure to create rules for those “in the crypto industry, in particular those in financial services.”

Hennessy believes that while token mapping is vital, it shouldn’t be the primary focus for regulators. 

“It should be secondary to actually creating some tax rules and regulations around licensing that we can give to our businesses that really need to hear it so they can compete with our global competitors.”

He fears that Australia is falling into the trap of “thinking that a little bit of attention from the government will solve the problems,” which he believes that the token mapping exercise “to some extent, is being viewed as.”

Schebesta said he spoke at a senate hearing in 2021 where he highlighted “Australia would have a huge influx of new businesses […] because it’s a safe, stable, and great regulatory place to build their business,” adding that “tens of thousands” of jobs would be created “in the next two to three years.”