New Zealand Law Society

Navigation menu

Cryptocurrency encouragement recommended

01 October 2018

New Zealand should move towards a central bank-issued cryptocurrency, thriving cryptocurrency exchanges and the ability for businesses to trade in GST-free cryptocurrency if it is to enjoy the vast potential benefits of this technology, a new report says.

Regulating Cryptocurrencies in New Zealand by Alexandra Sims, Kanchana Kariyawasam and David Mayes has been funded the the New Zealand Law Foundation.

The report recommends that the Government actively support New Zealand becoming a blockchain and financial technology (fintech) hub.

Cryptocurrencies are here to stay,” says principal researcher Alex Sims, Associate Professor of Commercial Law at the University of Auckland Business School. “But New Zealand has fallen behind countries we like to compare ourselves with, including Australia, the United Kingdom and Japan. So now we need to live up to our reputation as nimble, agile and innovative and rapidly follow the lead of those other countries. That’s the only way we can maximise the opportunities that blockchain offers.”

The authors argue that fast-moving technological advances and sensible regulation will address most concerns commonly raised about all types of currencies, including security, fluctuations in value, and potential for criminal abuse such as money laundering and financing terrorism.

Because the blockchain that underlies cryptocurrencies is a shared tamper-proof ledger of transactions, it removes the need both for buyer and seller to reconcile their records and for intermediaries to coordinate transactions.

Associate Professor Sims says “While not all blockchain applications require the use of cryptocurrencies, blockchain will not reach its full potential if cryptocurrencies are unable to be used, or their use made unnecessarily difficult. The New Zealand Government has taken a hands-off approach to cryptocurrencies, when it should be actively fostering an ecosystem so that New Zealand is seen as an attractive country in which to base blockchain businesses.”

The report makes a number of recommendations. These include that the Government should continue to allow cryptocurrencies to be traded as well as used for the payment of goods and services within and outside New Zealand. It recommends that New Zealand-based cryptocurrency exchanges be encouraged, with clear and detailed guidance provided as to their anti-money laundering/counter terrorism funding obligtations by both the Department of Internal Affairs and Financial Markets Authority.

The authors also recommend that New Zealand should follow countries such as the United Kingdom and Australia in creating a "regulatory sandbox" and ensuring that the regulators work alongside fintech companies.

Last updated on the 16th September 2019