In recent days, Ripple – one of the world’s biggest cryptocurrencies – has urged UK regulators to take control of the crypto market in the same way Japan have, to put an end to ‘wild west’ days of crypto regulation.
Ripple, amongst many others, are calling for more control in the space to ensure risks are minimized for consumers, whilst still allowing the asset class to innovate and grow.
There is little doubt that such calls will be answered – and that increased control will be introduced in the very near future. Just last month, Chancellor Philip Hammond announced a new taskforce, whose specific role was to safeguard crypto consumers. Whilst even more recently, the FCA announced that they will publish a review in to cryptocurrencies later this year which will ‘outline policy thinking on cryptocurrencies.’
Japan has, as of yet, been at the forefront of crypto regulation – and so provides a good indication of how we can expect it to play out in the UK. There are 3.5M crypto traders active in the country, and $97BN of Bitcoin was traded in 2017 alone1. Part of the reason regulation is so active and advanced in the country is a $500M crypto theft that took place early in 2018. This sparked a selection of sixteen cryptocurrency exchanges to form a self-regulatory organization to work towards developing standards for activities around ICOs.
The re-occurring issue with heightened regulation is the potential for suffocating innovation. ICOs and alt tokens have created a fresh and straight-forward means of raising capital for budding entrepreneurs to use when building their business ideas. Therefore, it is important that regulators practice walking the line between protecting consumers and potential investors, whilst not stifling innovative and creative prospects.
For example, a country that looks to be walking said line with good success is Australia. Already there have been very direct and positive moves with regards to crypto regulation in the country, some of which are already in place. All whilst managing not to stifle or suffocate the innovators at the centre. The biggest move so far is the introduction of the need to register with AUSTRAC before being allowed to function as a crypto exchange, something we at Blockbid successfully did earlier this month. Australia were also second only to Japan in accepting Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as legal tender.?
ICOs specifically require their own set of rules and guidelines. They are heavily regulated in the US and banned completely in China. Australia have set guidelines that depend on whether tokens are utility or security based. These guidelines are fairly strong, but allow companies to decide for themselves on which to go down, depending on the type of tokens they have produced.
Such an array of regulatory introductions are likely to have a real impact on companies working within the crypto-space, particularly for those that have been in action from the start, who will have to contend with rules that weren’t in place when they were starting out. However, for the most part responses from companies have been positive as the one thing everyone agrees on, is the protection of consumers is essential.
Precise details of how everything will work out remain unclear and will be revealed in time. Whilst the affects of regulation may appear as hurdles for those working in the crypto space, improved regulation will increase trust and engagement in crypto as a result. Therefore improved regulation is a step in the right direction not only for investors – but the companies behind cryptos as well.