Britain’s first cryptoasstes regulatory framework sketched out by the Bank of England on Thursday, saying that although the sector remained small, its rapid growth could pose risks to financial stability in future if left unregulated.

Cryptoassets have come under the regulatory spotlight amid concerns they could be used to circumvent financial sanctions imposed on Russia since its invasion of Ukraine.

“While cryptoassets are unlikely to provide a feasible way to circumvent sanctions at scale currently, the possibility of such behaviour underscores the importance of ensuring innovation in cryptoassets is accompanied by effective public policy frameworks to… maintain broader trust and integrity in the financial system,” the BoE’s Financial Policy Committee (FPC) said in a statement on Thursday.

Bitcoin and Ether and other cryptoassets are largely unregulated as they fall outside the regulatory ‘perimeter’ and a change of law would be needed to bring them under the full scope of UK securities rules.

“This would likely require the expansion of the role of existing macro and microprudential, conduct, and market integrity regulators, and close co-ordination amongst them,” the FPC said.

The FPC said direct risks to financial stability from crypto were currently limited, but if the recent pace of growth is maintained, there would be risks in future.

The sector globally grew tenfold between early 2020 and November 2021, and now stands at $1.7 trillion or 0.4% of global financial assets, with over 17,000 different cryptoasset tokens in circulation.

Regulation for the sector should be based on “equivalence”, meaning that crypto-related financial services that perform a similar function to existing financial services should be subject to the same laws, the FPC said.

Until cryptoassets are brought fully under the regulatory net, the BoE is focusing on ensuring that risks from crypto are controlled in the banking sector. Meanwhile, the Financial Conduct Authority on Thursday asked firms to fully explain to consumers the risks from unregulated crypto.

Regulators across the world are also trying to grapple with cryptoassets and their offshoots.

Source : USNews

Image : Getty images

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