This guide to “Crypto-City” looks at Sydney’s cryptoculture, its most notable projects, people and financial infrastructure. It also includes information on what retailers accept crypto, where to find blockchain education and a history of the city’s crypto controversy.

Jump to: Cryptoculture, Projects and Companies, Financial Infrastructure, Where can I use crypto? Controversies, collapses, Education and notable figures.

Fast Facts

Sydney Australia Sydney

Population: 5,2 million

Established: 1788

Sydney, Australia’s oldest, largest and most populous city, is world famous for its iconic landmarks and harbor views, including the Opera House and Harbor Bridge, affectionately called “The Coathanger”, by locals. Bondi Beach is the most famous of the 100 beaches that make up the Harbor City.

Sydney has one of the world’s largest natural harbors. (Pexels)

Sydney, located on Australia’s eastern coast, was founded as a penal settlement by the British Empire. The British Empire needed a place to send criminals when it lost control of the colonies during the American Revolution. The moniker “Sin City”, which was given to Sydney in the second half 20th century, is not surprising. Organized crime, rampant, corrupted the judges, top brass of police, and politicians.

Sydney, on a global level, is relatively young and architecturally modern. It was used as the backdrop for The Matrix. Mission Impossible 2 also featured it prominently. Finding NEMO did not feature 42 Wallaby Way in Sydney. Sydney is Australia’s main financial center, it has the world’s third-largest immigrant population, and the second-most unaffordable houses in the world, behind Hong Kong.

Sydney’s cryptoculture

Sydney was a pioneer in the early adoption of cryptocurrencies. This interest continues to this day. Blockchain Sydney is a group that has met regularly since 2013. They meet twice a week at pubs in the city. Blockchain Professionals also meets about once a week.

While only launched in early 2022 the Australian DeFi Association has been a popular monthly gathering for crypto enthusiasts and players.

Mark Monfort, co-founder of the meetup, originally designed it as a forum for online discussion. However it quickly evolved into a real-life event held in between larger blockchain events such as Blockchain Australian.

We wanted to fill the gap between other meetups, because we felt that Crypto Twitter was not a good place for direct discussion.

Sydney is home to one of the largest public transit networks in the world, with over 30 ferries that serve 38 wharves. (Wikimedia)

Monfort has a Calendar for Web3 meetups and events in Sydney and Australia. Bitcoin Sydney, Hyperledger Sydney, and Sydney AI Web3 are also popular meetups.

Sydney, as the financial centre of Australia, has a vibrant startup culture. The various co-working spaces in Sydney are host to many crypto-related events. They also act as a base of operations for a number of crypto and fintech startup companies. Stone & Chalk runs a Web3 Innovation Centre in the government-supported Sydney Startup Hub. Local exchange Independent Reserve also operates a blockchain business acceleration since 2018.

Blockchain Week is the flagship event of Blockchain Australia. At least one day in the program takes place in Sydney at the Exchange Centre, home to the Australian Stock Exchange.

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Sydney’s crypto companies and projects

Sydney’s crypto market is diverse and there are likely to be companies in each niche. There’s much more innovation coming out of Sydney than on the global stage, says Monfort. He is also a cofounder of NotCentralised.

Virtually Human Studios created the NFT horse race and betting game Zed run here (before moving to Melbourne), and so did Find Satoshi Labs for their move-to earn app StepN. The NFT gaming companies Illuvium, and Immutable also have offices in Sydney. Sigma Prime is the company behind Lighthouse. This widely used Ethereum client.

There aren’t nearly as many trading platforms or exchanges in Melbourne. Sydney is home to the Ethereum-based trading platform Synthetix. The DeFi-backed fintech block Earner is also based in Sydney, as well as the centralized exchanges Independent reserve and CyberSpend.

The Redbelly Network runs the blockchain with the same name. It was created at Sydney University by government researchers. Smart Token Labs is headquartered in Sydney, as are AlphaWallet creators of an open-source wallet and Verida creators of a crypto wallet.

In addition to Block8, a company that develops blockchain products, Soulbound, a token development and advisory firm, Soulbis, Filecoin, a data storage provider powered by Holon, as well as the Tide Foundation which offers a blockchain-based cybersecurity solution, are also located in the city.

The comparison site Finder runs a crypto-exchange, while its founder Fred Schebesta dabbles in his blockchain investment fund Hive Empire. Finder is also Schebesta’s holding company. Schebesta is the owner of Crypto Castle , which he purchased for $11.5 million (17 millions AUD) in 2021. It’s used for photoshoots, events and has been listed on Airbnb at an exorbitant price per night.

Crypto Castle highlights that money and taste are two very different things. (Airbnb)

Exchange-traded funds manager Global X ETFs Australia has two local entities: one that invests in Bitcoin and Ether, and another for crypto and fintech firms publicly listed. Bitcoin mining companies Iris Energy, and Arkon Energy, are based in Sydney, but they do not have local operations. Their mines are located in Canada, Texas, and Norway.

HaymarketHQand BlockathonDAOhave established incubator paths in Sydney for cryptocurrency start ups. They often run events and meetups. The former helps to accelerate crypto companies in Australia.

The venture firm Airtree VC, which is based on the inner-city suburb Surry Hills and has partnered up with some Web3 companies, is based there. Meanwhile the Web3 recruitment company CryptoRecruit resides in Bondi. The Web3 data platform itheum has a new home in Sydney. Stirling & Rose, and Piper Alderman are both crypto-lawyers.

Sydney’s financial infrastructure

Sydney is home to Australia’s first Bitcoin ATM. was live in a city centre mall on April 15, 2014 The ATM was bought from RoboCoin. This company had installed the first Bitcoin ATM of the world in Canada six months prior. RoboCoin’s ATM in Sydney was the 11th to be launched worldwide.

According to Coin ATM Radar, there are over 100 Bitcoin ATMs in Sydney’s central business district, and the outer suburbs. They are all operated by just a few companies. Only 14 are able to sell crypto, but they’re mostly located in the city centre.

Sydneysiders have access to a number of local exchanges and international ones, as do all Australians. CoinJar is one of the few — along with CoinSpot and Wirex — that offer debit cards. These cards allow crypto to be directly spent or receive “cashback”.

Crypto isn’t used widely for sending money or making payments. PayID, the New Payments Platform that everyone calls, is what allows Australians to send smaller amounts of money through TradFi rails. It’s instant, free, 24/7 and requires only a phone number. Philip Lowe, the Australian central bank governor has previously said that he is “skeptical”, about the need for a central bank retail digital currency. “How could we provide digital tokens better than this?”

It is not clear how the relationship between crypto companies, banks or payment providers will develop. Binance Australia Zepto’s payment provider was required to leave the exchange in May 2023 by its payments partner Cuscal.

Westpac, another of Australia’s “Big Four”, also , began block payments to crypto exchanges the same day Binance debanked. The Sydney-based Commonwealth Bank, Australia’s largest financial institution, announced that it would begin refusing or temporarily holding payments made to crypto exchanges. It also imposed a $10,000 cap per month on the amount its customers can send to exchanges.

When asked to justify their actions, the banks vaguely mentioned scams.

CBA liked crypto much better around the time of its all-time peak. (CBA)

Where can I spend my crypto?

Sydney has only a few places where you can use crypto. Coinmap states that there are approximately 25 locations in Sydney which accept digital currency. This number drops to about 40 when you travel out into the suburbs.

Many venues that still exist, but which were not listed on Coinmap, no longer accept crypto payments. According to multiple venue owners, the lack of interest from customers is what led them to abandon crypto payments.

Only takeaway. The Bitcoin Rocket Cafe, sandwiched between two banks and a post-office, is a tiny place. (Facebook)

You can get a cup of coffee at Cat & Cow Coffee, located in Clovelly. The Bitcoin Rocket Cafe, located in Redfern, accepts Bitcoin instead of the Lightning Network to pay for coffees and Banh Mis. Samantha Ho, the cafe owner, charged a higher rate for customers who spent less than $13 (20 AUD), when paying via Lightning Network. She estimated that around five out of 100 customers paid using Bitcoin.

You can order online from a number of shops that accept crypto. You can buy a skateboard at Boardworld which has stores in Newtown and St Peters, both inner-west suburbs. Retro Girl accepts Bitcoin as payment for vintage goods. Babylikestopony also has a Paddington shop.

The bar is Lulu located under the bridge. It operates CryptoLulu – a NFT-gated club, that offers private lounges and networking events for NFT holders. The bar does not accept crypto payments at the moment, but will soon.

Controversies, collapses and controversy

Since many years there has been much excitement surrounding the ASX‘s implementation of a blockchain-backed system for its clearing and settlements. The plans were first announced in 2017 but there have been multiple delays. 170 million dollars later and five years after the announcement, the ASX cancelled the project at the end of 2022. The central bank and securities regulator were furious.

ASIC has taken a number of enforcement actions against Sydney-based businesses in the crypto industry. filed a lawsuit against Block Earner on November 20, 2022, alleging that the latter was offering crypto-based yields products without a licence. ASIC sued comparison website Finder a few months later with a similar suit. The regulator claimed that Finder had shut down their crypto-yielding product a month before because of ASIC’s concerns.

ASIC cancelled in April 2022, after a “targeted” review. This was the result of a “targeted” review of Binance Australia derivatives. (Oztures Trading), which is the futures division of the exchange. ASIC claims that it had been sniffing out the Sydney-based Australian entity for FTX several months before the global firm collapsed in November of 2022. FTX Australia gained a local license by buying another company with a financial license. ASIC chair Joe Longo is trying to close this loophole.

Holon also got a similar slap from ASIC in 2022. This stopped crypto ETFs from investing in Bitcoins, Ether, and Filecoin. Holon later abandoned the idea.

ASIC launched a series of charges in late 2020 against John Biggaton who was the promoter of the notorious BitConnect Ponzi Scheme. After his wife Madeline Bigatton mysteriously vanished in March 2018, conspiracy theories have been created about Biggaton. Her family does not believe that she committed suicide in The Gap.

Sydneysider Kathryn Nguyen has been charged with the theft and stealing of crypto assets. She was sentenced to two years in prison for stealing 100,000 XRP around January 2018. After the collapse of the alleged Sydney Ponzi scheme Metafi Yielders, Michael Daher claimed that he was only a “fall guy” and that the real schemers in Nigeria were the ones who stole $135 million.

In a short period of time, the Commonwealth Bank appears to have changed its crypto stance. It was in November 2021 that it began to prepare for crypto trading through its banking app. Matt Comyn was the CEO at the time. He stated that the bank believed there were “bigger risk in not participating in crypto” and in May 2022 it still appeared was trying to push past regulators. Just over a year later, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia began to censor payments made to crypto exchanges.

Craig Wright, the controversial Satoshi claimant, used to reside in Sydney. His house was raided in 2015 by federal police due to a tax warrant. He now lives in the United Kingdom.

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Crypto education in Sydney

Some higher-ed schools offer units or courses on blockchain and web3. Sydney’s first University, University of Sydney offers a Unit entitled “Cryptocurrency and Investments.” The Course is part of the Master of Cybersecurity.

Sydney Uni, along with CSIRO (a federally funded scientific research agency), developed Redbelly Blockchain. This blockchain was designed to create a network that is “fork-proof”. In December 2021, the project was spun off from the university into its own commercial entity.

The University of Sydney. (Wikipedia)

The University of Technology Sydney offers a two-hour free online course on blockchain technology, and the University of New South Wales offers undergraduate and postgraduate courses on “Web3” and “Blockchain Applications.” UNSW offers its course on cryptocurrency and DeFi as a core part of the postgraduate fintech major.

If you are willing to spend $235 (350AUD) for nine hours in a classroom to learn about crypto, blockchain, and trading, the Sydney Community College offers a Course that will introduce you to blockchain and crypto — but this course does not carry accreditation like the other courses.

The University Network of Cryptocurrency & Blockchain is a student-led organization that hosts semi-regular events and meetups.

UNSW will receive USDC worth $4 million in May 2022 from Ethereum cofounder Vitalik Buterin to develop a tool for pandemic detection.

Kain Warwick is one of Sydney’s most notable crypto figures. (Cointelegraph)

Figures of note

StepN creator Jerry Huang, Algorand Foundation Governance Manager Adriana Belotti, Haymarket HQ CEO Duco van Breeman, Immutable cofounders Robbie Ferguson and James Ferguson; Independent Reserve cofounder Adrian Przelozny; Virtually Human founder Chris Laurent, and Zed Run creator Chris Laurent. Global X ETFs AU’s CEO Evan Metcalf.

Cointelegraph contributors and team members based in Sydney include Felix Ng Brayden Linda Ciaran Lyns Jesse Coghlan

If you have suggestions for additions to this guide, please email:

Jesse Coghlan

Jesse is an Australian-based journalist who specializes in cryptography. He also serves as the Deputy Editor of Cointelegraph Australia’s newsdesk. Jesse’s first articles were about non-crypto crimes, conflicts, and protests. He now focuses his writing on crypto exploits and policy, as well as the impending AI dystopia.