VanEck's VBTC went live on the ASX last month. ASX Twitter

Australia has gradually opened up to the cryptocurrency industry, and recently, a major development in the form of VanEck launching the first spot Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX), has drawn the world's attention to the country's openness to the emerging sector.

Following around four years of engaging with Australian regulators to bring the first spot BTC ETF to the ASX, investment management firm VanEck finally launched the VBTC. Ahead of the fund's launch, VanEck's Asia Pacific CEO and Managing Director Arian Neiron said the company recognizes Bitcoin as an "emerging asset class that many advisers and investors want to access."

It appears the same is true for Australia. The 5th edition of the Independent Reserve Cryptocurrency Index (IRCI) released in February showed that 25% of Australians now view Bitcoin more favorably after the U.S. approval of spot BTC ETFs in January. The report also showed that 63% of crypto holders in the country hold Bitcoin, and a staggering 69% of Australians "consider Bitcoin to be money, a store of value or an investment asset."

Beyond investors, the Australian government has also been working toward establishing regulatory guardrails. In October, the Australian Treasury department proposed reforms that "target identified consumer harms, while supporting innovation in the uses of digital assets and emerging technologies."

The proposed regulatory framework had four core objectives, two of them being "promoting innovation through technology neutrality and regulatory clarity," and "utilizing regulatory tools that provide agility, flexibility, and adaptability." The proposal paper used language that emphasized both the importance of investor protection and embracing innovative alternatives to the existing financial system.

For Jamie Elkaleh, the Country Manager at cryptocurrency company and exchange Bitget, VanEck's BTC ETF will encourage healthy competition among existing ETF products in Australia.

"With existing ETF products in the country, investors will now have another alternative compared to the existing options from Monochrome and Global X 21Shares," he told International Business Times. "For VanEck to get its BTC ETF offering approved also underscores the relevance of the asset class." He projected a potential shift among ETF investors due to the VBTC's entry.

"This might fuel a vote of confidence among investors who may now bet on Bitcoin under safe investor protection conditions," he said.

Elkaleh noted that Australia is more welcoming to innovative products than other countries. "This is evident in its openness to the asset class, marked by approval of a Bitcoin ETF product since last year. That the U.S., UK, and Hong Kong now have related products approved shows how futuristic Australia is."

Australia's crypto market size is "pale" when compared to the U.S., but for Elkaleh, "embracing Bitcoin capital markets before the Western giants set a precedent that is generally shaping the industry at the moment."

Since 2019, the awareness of Australians about BTC, the world's largest cryptocurrency by market cap, has increased to 93% from 87%, as per the IRCI. Among respondents aged 55-64, a total of 57% said they prefer to invest in Bitcoin through an ETF instead of an exchange, further indicating a growing interest among older, possibly more experienced investors in spot BTC ETFs.

Australia may not have the reach-related opportunities as seen in huge western markets, but its potential for growth is being built on the public's increasing interest in Bitcoin products and the government's efforts toward establishing a robust regulatory framework.