Blockchain, cryptocurrency, initial coin offerings and security token offerings


Blockchain is a decentralised, distributed ledger that is used to record transactions made from many computers and that stops records being altered retroactively without all subsequent blocks being altered.

One of the driving forces behind blockchain is globalisation. Consumers, businesses and governments expect fast, reliable and secure ways of storing and transferring critically important data – including data relating to cryptocurrency, banking and finance, education, government and more.

Bitcoin, and more than 1,000 other cryptocurrencies, are enabled by blockchain. So too are the increasingly emerging ‘initial coin offerings’ (ICOs) and ‘security token offerings’ (STOs).

The digital landscape is changing quickly. By considering commercial, tax (including the GST treatment of digital currency) and regulatory issues, our team looks at the big picture to advise on blockchain, cryptocurrency, ICOs and STOs opportunities.

Our involvement

YBF Melbourne Web 3.0 Panel: The Promise of Distributed Technologies
Startup Victoria Fireside Chat: The Future of Work
Smart Cities Blockchain Hackathon
Westpac BlockHack 16
Preparing submissions to Treasury for consultation on legislative developments that address GST treatment of digital currency
Hall & Wilcox Interview with Crypto News Australia
Introduction to Security Tokens - BlockheadsTV Ep22
Blockchain centre - John and Karen
Hall & Wilcox Interview with Crypto News Australia


Financial services

  • Advising on and establishing, cryptocurrency funds
  • Reviewing and signing off on whitepapers and accompanying disclosure documents
  • Advice on operating digital currency exchanges, including the new Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Financing registration requirements for operators of exchanges
  • Advice on whether a cryptocurrency or digital token is a financial product  (which requires compliance with licensing and disclosure requirements) or whether the token environment constitutes the operation of a non-cash payment facility
  • Advice on how to restructure an ICO so that it is not a managed investment scheme
  • Advice on the legal implications of conducting a security token offering (STO)


  • Advising on the GST implications of trading cryptocurrency through online platforms
  • Reviewing business-to-business as well as business-to-consumer onshore and offshore transactions where consideration comprises of cryptocurrency
  • Advising operators of electronic distribution platforms (websites, mobile phone applications, gaming platforms and other marketplaces) of the GST implications and compliance obligations

Litigation and dispute resolution

  • Advising in relation to a dispute pertaining to a subscription in an ICO
  • Advising in relation to jurisdictional and enforcement issues pertaining to the rights of a cryptocurrency owner


Hall & Wilcox Cryptocurrency & Blockchain Tax team regularly advises on:

  • the Australian tax treatment of cryptocurrency dealings by individuals (Australian resident and foreign resident)
  • structuring opportunities for various cryptocurrency dealings
  • domestic and international exchanges and cryptocurrency investment funds
  • negotiating private binding rulings requests on behalf of taxpayers.

The team has most recently provided submissions to Treasury and the OECD, and participated in Treasury’s roundtables, regarding the regulation of ICOs and tokens, and taxation of the digital economy. In addition, the team has significant experience with tax disputes and controversy generally, with a close working relationship with the Hall & Wilcox Dispute Resolution team.

Each of the following are actively involved in current cryptocurrency and blockchain matters:
Anthony BradicaPeter MurrayMichael ParkerJim Koutsokostas, Adam Dimac and Todd Bromwich.

Key Contact

    Fluent in Arabic - Conversational

John has broad experience in financial services, funds management, blockchain, corporate and commercial law, with a particular emphasis...

Related Thinking

Tax and superannuation| 23 Jun 2020

Rum and bitcoin – an unlikely pairing

Deputy President Bernard J McCabe of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal has confirmed that bitcoin is not foreign currency for the purposes of Division 775 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 (1997 Act). This decision affirms the views that we, and others, have held for some time that subject to law reform, the rules governing the treatment of foreign currency gains and losses for tax purposes set out in Division 775 of the 1997 Act will not apply to most cryptocurrencies. Our Tax team discuss the decision, and considers what’s included under the term ‘foreign currency’ for the purpose of the 1997 Act.

Thinking| 28 Jan 2020

Ethereum 2.0 – Don’t forket the tax rules

Ethereum’s functionality and success has come as a double edged sword. Its popularity with businesses using blockchain solutions has resulted in a massive uptake, which has in turn led to scalability issues. In fact, Joseph Lubin, the co-founder of the Swiss-based EthSuisse which has contributed heavily to Ethereum, stated in September 2019 ‘we knew it wasn't going to be scalable for sure’. Rest assured, a solution has been in the works for some time - Ethereum 2.0. We won’t delve into the technical nuances of Ethereum 2.0, or how it will interact and integrate (eventually) with Ethereum, but we can talk about some of the likely tax implications.

Thinking| 31 Jul 2019

Cryptocurrencies in, then out of, new draft legislation restricting payments by cash

Last week, the Australian Government released its exposure draft of the Currency (Restrictions on the Use of Cash) Bill 2019 (Bill) for public consultation. While the draft Bill currently captures digital currencies by default, the Government intends to provide relief from application for digital currency.

Thinking| 03 Jun 2019

ICO regulatory update – guidance on ICOs and crypto-assets

ASIC has released an update to information sheet INFO 225: Initial coin offerings and crypto-assets...