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Yechiel Belfer

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Yechiel is a Special Counsel in the Melbourne office. His primary focus is in the regulation of financial services and consumer credit. He has more than 12 years' experience in advising a broad range of clients, ranging from established financial institutions to fintechs, both local and offshore.

On 21 November 2022, the Treasury put out a call for submissions to assist with developing the Federal Government’s regulatory framework for buy now, pay later (BNPL) arrangements. The released options paper seeks to address the purported lack of oversight of the BNPL industry which has so far not been regulated in the same way as other forms of consumer credit under the National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009. Pending stakeholder review, the paper seeks to strengthen the regulatory framework surrounding BNPL products and depending on the option adopted, may see them subject to the same regulations as credit cards or loan facilities.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission has, again, extended the transitional relief period for Foreign Financial Services Providers for a further 12 months to 31 March 2024, through the introduction of the ASIC Corporations (Amendment) Instrument 2022/623 on 28 July 2022. ASIC has stated the Amendment Instrument was introduced to provide certainty for the industry given the lapsing of the Treasury Laws Amendment (Streamlining and Improving Economic Outcomes for Australians) Bill 2022.

On 2 June 2022, ASIC published the updated ePayments Code which it states will strengthen and clarify a number of existing protections for consumers relating to various forms of electronic payments. The Code has generally been the benchmark for consumer protections for payments and transactions that were triggered within the world of online and mobile banking. It has been an added level of regulation for its subscribers which include most banks, credit unions and building societies in Australia.

As announced in March in the opening hours of Blockchain Week by Minister Jane Hume, the Government released a consultation paper which proposes a new regulatory and licensing regime for ‘crypto asset secondary service providers’. This followed a call by Senator Andrew Bragg earlier that day for crypto reforms to be consolidated into a comprehensive legislative package (including a ‘Digital Services Act’), The main regulatory framework tabled could fall outside the existing Australian Financial Services licensing regime and focuses on the ecosystem of those who offer custody, storage, brokering, exchange and dealing services or operate a market in crypto assets for retail clients.

There has been further progress towards a new Foreign Financial Services Providers (FFSPs) framework in Australia. The Treasury Laws Amendment (Streamlining and Improving Economic Outcomes for Australians) Bill 2022 (Bill) was introduced to Parliament on 17 February 2022. This bill is very similar to the exposure draft released for consultation in December, discussed here. The Bill continues to propose three key exemptions for FFSPs: the professional investor exemption, the comparable regulator exemption and the fit and proper person test exemption and although largely unchanged there are some important new requirements that we consider are important to highlight.

New regulations to expand the regulatory sandbox for Fintechs have received royal assent and are set to commence 1 September 2020. The Regulations introduce a sandbox with few restrictions than the exemptions currently available which are stated to encourage and support the design and delivery of new financial services in…

On 12 March 2019, the Treasury Laws Amendment (Strengthening Corporate And Financial Sector Penalties) Act 2019 received assent after passing both houses of Parliament. Commencement of most provisions has occurred. Treasury stated that its intention is to arm our financial services regulators with the powers needed to take strong action…