Treasury Consultation Paper on ICOs in Australia: The Technology, The Market, and The Regulation of ICOs

45 Pages Posted: 19 Mar 2019 Last revised: 9 May 2019

See all articles by Adrian McCullagh

Adrian McCullagh

Griffith Law School

John Flood

Griffith University; Queensland University of Technology; Centre for Blockchain Technologies

Date Written: February 27, 2019


The Australian Treasury has identified a number of challenges in FinTech, especially around Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs). In this paper we examine four types of tokens within ICOs: pure utility tokens, security tokens, stored value tokens, and hybrid tokens. There is considerable confusion surrounding what each means and signifies, and how each should be treated by both consumers and regulators. We explore the differences, noting what promoters should do to avoid falling into regulatory traps, and the consequences for selecting particular types of token. Because of the confusion around ICO tokens, we suggest there should be a new asset class of token recognised in the Australian Corporations Act. It would have its own funding limits and regulatory framework. Finally, we outline a new code of conduct for ICOs.

Keywords: blockchain, Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ether, ICO, TGE, smart contract, regulation

JEL Classification: G15, G18, G23, G28, G38, K2, K22, K40

Suggested Citation

McCullagh, Adrian and Flood, John A., Treasury Consultation Paper on ICOs in Australia: The Technology, The Market, and The Regulation of ICOs (February 27, 2019). Griffith University Law School Research Paper No. 19-05, Available at SSRN: or

Adrian McCullagh (Contact Author)

Griffith Law School ( email )

Nathan Campus, GU
Nathan 4111

John A. Flood

Griffith University ( email )

Nathan campus
Nathan, Queensland 4111

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Queensland University of Technology ( email )

Level 4, C Block Gardens Point
2 George St
Brisbane, QLD 4000

Centre for Blockchain Technologies ( email )

UCL CBT UCL Computer Science
Malet Place London WC
London, London WC1E 6BT
United Kingdom


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