UK Regulators Eye Crypto

Shanny Basar

UK regulators said cryptoassets do not currently pose a threat to monetary  or financial stability and they want to support innovation that will bring benefits to consumers.

Three regulators spoke on a panel at the CryptoCompare Digital Asset Summit in London today.

The UK government launched a cryptoassets taskforce last year between HM Treasury, the Financial Conduct Authority and the Bank of England. The taskforce published a final report in October last year.

Gillian Dorner, deputy director, financial services, domestic strategy at HM Treasury said the taskforce was launched because the government has the ambition for the UK to be the most innovative economy and maintain its position as a financial centre while balancing opportunities and risks.

Gillian Dorner, HM Treasury

Dorner added that the taskforce reviewed how cryptoassets interact with the current regulatory framework and the risks of consumers buying unsuitable products, illicit activity, market integrity and financial stability

She continued: “The technology is not currently  delivering significant benefits but it is in an early phase and there could be benefits in cross-border payments and capital raising. There will be a consultation this year on aspects that are not covered by current regulation.”

Samantha Emery, FCA Innovate’s interim head of department, said the regulator launched a consultation on cryptoassets in January and will publish results in the summer. She said the FCA could potentially ban the sale of derivatives referencing cryptocurrencies to retail customers.

“There is no value in the FCA sticking its head in the sand and we look at activities we regulate, rather than the technology,” Emery added.

She highlighted the Global Financial Innovation Network which will allow innovative fintechs to perform cross-border testing.

Samantha Emery, FCA

“In GFIN we are working with more than 35 global regulators to understand worldwide trends,” Emery added. “The first cohort has started cross-border testing.”

Martin Etheridge, head of notes operation at the Bank of England, said cryptoassets do not currently pose a material threat to UK financial stability.

“There is no material linkage to systematically important institutions or markets,” he said. “We perform ongoing monitoring and we are working closely with the Basel committee.”

He highlighted that when the central bank reviewed RTGS, the UK payments system, it decided that DLT was not mature enough to use but ensured that the platform will be interoperable with future technology.

Etheridge added: “We are not looking to stop innovation and cryptoassets could bring significant utility in the future.”

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