UK Government Moots Ban on Cryptocurrency Derivatives
The U.K. government is considering a ban on cryptocurrency-linked derivative products. The Financial Conduct Authority said in a report on Oct. 29 that it will begin consultations on whether to ban the sale of derivatives based on digital coins like BTC as well as to restrict crypto-based contracts of difference to the public. Virtual currency futures and options will also be looked into, in discussions slated for the first quarter of 2019.
FCA Worried About Consumer Protection and Risk of Cryptocurrency-Related Illegal Activity
“Given concerns identified around consumer protection and market integrity in these markets, the FCA will consult on a prohibition of the sale to retail consumers of all derivatives referencing exchange tokens such as BTC, including CFDs, futures, options and transferable securities,” the financial watchdog said.
“The proposed prohibition would not cover derivatives referencing cryptoassets that qualify as securities,” it stated, in a report compiled by the Cryptoassets Taskforce, made up of the Bank of England, the FCA and the British Treasury. Contracts of differences on securities are to remain subject to the short-term restrictions of the European Security and Market Authority.
Whereas futures allow investors to pay for commodities or financial instruments to be delivered sometime in the future at a certain price, CFDs are basically financial derivatives that pay an investor the difference between the opening and closing price, in this case of a digital asset.
Regulator Targets ‘Robust Response’
European regulators have complained that cryptocurrencies are risky, and repeatedly alleged that they help to fuel money laundering and terrorism while placing investor funds at the mercy of fraudsters. Their alarmist entreaties have ramped up pressure on governments to act, with many promulgating a series of regulations ostensibly to safeguard public funds and prevent the risk of financial instability.
The FCA, which has oversight of cryptocurrency derivatives because they are classified as financial instruments, rehashed similar concerns in its latest report. “The U.K. will not tolerate the use of cryptoassets in illicit activity, and the authorities will take strong action to address these risks by bringing all relevant firms into anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing (AML/CTF) regulation,” it warned.
The latest report comes hardly two months after some U.K. lawmakers, calling for regulation, likened the cryptocurrency market to the “Wild West.”
According to the taskforce, British authorities are developing a robust regulatory response that will address identified risks. It indicated that regulators will go significantly beyond the requirements set out in the EU Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive (5MLD), in the hope of delivering what it claimed to be “the most comprehensive responses globally to the use of cryptoassets for illicit activity.”
“The government will consult on its proposed actions in the new year, and will legislate during 2019 to give effect to this response,” the FCA detailed, adding that fiat-to-crypto exchange firms and custodian wallet providers will be brought within the scope of anti-money laundering regulation.
The Cryptoasset Taskforce was set up in April following concerns that the generally unregulated digital currency market is susceptible to fraud and manipulation, and can be used by criminals to expedite money laundering. This is despite clear evidence showing the legacy financial markets, led by central banks and credit card cartels, to be significantly more complicit in abetting such behavior.