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As part of the Digital Currency Council’s Continuing Education partnership with Inside Bitcoins, DCC interviewed thought leaders who will be speaking at the Inside Bitcoins Conference in San Diego on December 14-16, 2015. Today, we share an interview with Sheree Ip, an Academic at Curtin University, Curtin Law School.

Tell us about how you got interested in digital currencies and blockchain technology.

I first heard about digital currencies when I came across the Silk Road’s case. It was fascinating how there was this new currency, that was seized by the government and worth millions, yet they did not know how to characterize it under the pre-existing law nor physically use it at a brick and mortar store. That was what sparked my initial interest, in a new found grey area of law. I started looking into Bitcoin and the underlying blockchain technology since then.

What is the regulatory climate like right now in Australia?

In Australia so far we have regulation issued in the form of Goods and Services Tax and Capital Gains Tax, which is problematic subjecting businesses to double taxation on one transaction. Bitcoin and other like digital currencies have been deemed as property or a barter transaction. But there was a Senate inquiry earlier this year, with recommendations that digital currencies be classified as money to resolve this issue.

What are some of the greatest challenges in Australia’s digital currency ecosystem?

The greatest challenge that businesses face is with the current taxation policy on digital currencies. The resulting effect of that has been for most bitcoin companies to move offshore or shut down from being subject to double taxation. While other jurisdictions are able to offer a much more competitive environment for digital currency businesses. Another recent challenge is the main Australian bank’s anti-competitive behavior in closing down all bitcoin business banking accounts. It is currently being investigated by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission under the Consumer Competition Act.

What are you looking forward to hearing about at Inside Bitcoins San Diego?

I am looking forward to hearing about the new innovative developments with blockchain technologies. There a lot of innovative people out there, who always come up with something novel and exciting.

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