In the run-up to the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) listing of the world’s biggest cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex, which was the target of a global crackdown by the Australian Government on the virtual currency, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) conducted a survey of 1,000 Australian workers who held investment or business positions with the company.
“We were looking at the impact of this on people’s finances and were really concerned that they were making decisions on their own,” ASX managing director Richard Greenfield told the ABC.
“So we had a team of people that were going to look at their financial health and we thought it would be helpful to do the same thing.”
The study was undertaken in conjunction with ASX-listed financial services firm BNP Paribas.
It found that about one-third of the 2,000 workers surveyed had a significant investment in the exchange, but only 30 per cent of them had a positive view of the company and only 14 per cent had a negative view.
“What we found was that the majority of people felt that there was an increased risk in their personal finances if BitfineX went under,” Greenfield said.
“The majority of the people who had been surveyed didn’t think it would cause any problems in their financial situations and didn’t have a negative outlook for the future.”
The survey also found that the average person would be forced to pay an extra $2,500 in taxes and other fees over the course of their lifetime if they were to lose their investment.
In response to the survey, the ATO advised people not to invest in Bitfinexes until they understood the full impact of the regulatory crackdown and what it could do to their personal financial wellbeing.
The company did not respond to a request for comment from News.org.au on Wednesday.
The findings from the study are the latest in a series of financial studies by the ATI into the impact the regulatory clampdown has had on the financial sector.
A recent report by the Parliamentary Budget Office found that between December 1 and March 31, the Government’s budget was delayed by an average of 20 days for every business.
“It is clear that this is having an impact on the confidence of business owners and investors, as we see some of the businesses that are expected to be affected by this move to withdraw from the market due to the threat of regulation are already suffering from the uncertainty,” Greenfields said.
The ATO said it was reviewing its research.
“ASX-linked investment managers are required to report to the ATIO on the impact they think the exchange’s trading operations are having on their businesses, and we are working with ASY to review the data in this regard,” the agency said in a statement.