Kraken Faces Regulatory Hurdles in Australia

Key Insights:

  • ASIC launches proceedings against Bit Trade, Kraken’s Australian arm, over financial product discrepancies.
  • Over 1,160 Australian Kraken users face losses due to the controversial margin trading product.
  • ASIC’s proactive stance on crypto regulation is evident as significant players like eToro and Binance face scrutiny.

Recently, attention has been drawn to Bit Trade, the entity overseeing Kraken’s activities in Australia. It has been reported that the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has commenced legal actions against this firm. As highlighted by ASIC, the central issue is aligning a margin trading product with Australian financial standards.

Understanding the Margin Trading Controversy

ASIC’s design and distribution obligations, introduced in October 2021, are clear. Financial products offered in Australia must be designed to cater to the specific needs of consumers. Furthermore, their distribution should be targeted to reach the intended audience. Bit Trade, however, has overlooked these requirements.

The product in the limelight allows Kraken users to amplify their assets. It offers credit up to five times the value of their collateral, termed as “margin extension.” This facility essentially aids in buying and selling select cryptocurrencies on the Kraken platform. ASIC’s perspective is that this offering is a “credit facility.”

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A pivotal step before introducing such a product in Australia is the “target market determination.” It ensures the product’s alignment with its audience’s needs. Bit Trade, however, allegedly sidestepped this essential procedure. The aftermath of this oversight is glaring. Over 1,160 Australian Kraken users have reportedly faced losses of nearly 13 million Australian dollars.

Adding to the complexity, ASIC had previously highlighted this discrepancy to Bit Trade in June 2022. Despite the heads-up, the company continued its offerings without the requisite evaluations.

ASIC’s Vigilance in the Crypto Domain

The dynamism of the crypto industry is evident. Yet, it hasn’t eluded the meticulous gaze of global regulatory bodies. ASIC, drawing parallels with its American counterpart, has been incredibly proactive. Sarah Court, the deputy chair of ASIC, underscored the gravity of the recent action against Kraken’s provider. Her words resonated with the crypto community, emphasizing the paramount importance of regulatory adherence.

Kraken is one of many entities to experience ASIC’s regulatory rigor. Other significant players in the crypto arena have faced similar challenges. Etoro, a renowned name, encountered ASIC’s scrutiny in August for analogous reasons. Binance, a global leader in cryptocurrency exchanges, underwent a raid on its Australian offices in July. This incident was a sequel to the earlier revocation of Binance’s operational license in Australia.

The crypto industry’s trajectory is intertwined with regulatory evolution. Entities in this domain must navigate cautiously, ensuring compliance with legal mandates. For Kraken and Bit Trade, the ongoing legal proceedings are a testament to the repercussions of lapses. As the narrative progresses, the crypto world awaits the outcomes and the potential ripple effects on the broader industry landscape.