In a speech on Monday, the Liberal senator Jane Hume said that decentralised finance (DeFi) “presents huge opportunities” for Australia.

Senator Hume, the Minister for Women’s Economic Security of Australia, was speaking at the Australian Financial Review Super & Wealth Summit in Sydney.

The forum focused mainly on superannuation retirement funds. However, Hume’s crypto and DeFi comments stirred up plenty of interest, especially as they appeared to refute some of the language coming from the Reserve Bank of Australia just lately.

Last week, Tony Richards, the RBA’s Head of Payments Policy, inferred that crypto investing is “fad driven” and that “current speculative demand could begin to reverse”, leaving digital assets with minimal use cases. (And this is despite his own foray into crypto investing since 2014, by the way.)

Senator Hume said that industry and government “need to acknowledge” that crypto and DeFi is “not a fad,” and to “tread cautiously, but not fearfully” because the technology is “not going away any time soon”.

“If the last 20 or 30 years have taught us anything, it’s that all innovation begins as disruption and ends as a household name,” she said, adding:

‘Decentralised finance underpinned by blockchain technology will present incredible opportunities – Australia mustn’t be left behind by fear of the unknown.’

“Don’t be the person who thought the iPhone would never take off because people would prefer to have their music and telephone on separate devices,” said Senator Hume.

“Don’t be the person who was still doing their financial models by hand in 2001, rather than using Excel… Don’t be the person in 1995 who said the internet was just a place for geeks and criminals and would never become mainstream.”

The senator also noted that Australian industry should embrace innovation and developments in the emerging technology space, especially those revolving around blockchain technology, making reference to the Commonwealth Bank’s plans to offer crypto services to all its users.

“This will make CBA the first Australian bank — and one of just a handful of banks worldwide — to offer customers this sort of access,” said Hume.


‘Another critical step’: Blockchain Australia

Speaking with Stockhead, Blockchain Australia’s CEO Steve Vallas said the senator’s speech was “another critical step” in the discussion around the development of the local crypto industry.

And he believes the superannuation-focused forum for the senator’s speech is particularly significant:

“Scaled mainstream adoption [of cryptocurrencies and blockchain] requires participation by the superannuation industry, and fund and wealth managers, who disproportionately chart the path of the financial future of Australians.”

As for the RBA’s take on crypto, Vallas believes that, on the whole, its approach has been “measured and appropriate”, but that the “shift globally in retail and consumer application warrants review of that focus”.

“To dismiss the developments in markets across the world as a fad underestimates the incentives and investments looking for greater certainty to take root,” said Vallas. “Our reputation as a stable regulatory environment must be complemented by a visible willingness to innovate.”