UK Financial Watchdog Issues Statement on Crypto Derivatives Providers

  • The FCA weighed in on cryptocurrency derivatives
  • The regulator's proposed measures do not impact cryptocurrencies directly

Countries including Australia, Japan, and India, each sought an individual approach to cryptocurrencies this week. As reported, both Australia and Japan have introduced measures for controlling activity behind cryptocurrency exchanges and initial coin offerings (ICOs).

Meanwhile, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has turned its back on cryptocurrency-related accounts, making it hard for Indian residents to trade crypto for fiat. The UK has taken on the approach of the former this week, as the country’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) published new procedures, aiming to ensure a higher degree of transparency.

FCA On Cryptocurrency Derivatives

A document published on the FCA’s website on April 6 states that while cryptocurrencies aren't regulated by the FCA, companies offering services related to cryptocurrency derivates will “likely” need the agency’s authorization.

Organizations that deal with cryptocurrencies to any extent, on the other hand, are subject to regulation. This, as regulated companies that offer some crypto must have that derivative come under the broader umbrella of their legislation.

The FCA’s announcement reads:

"Firms conducting regulated activities in cryptocurrency derivatives must, therefore, comply with all applicable rules in the FCA’s Handbook and any relevant provisions indirectly applicable European Union regulations."

FCA

What's Under FCA Regulation

The FCA has specified what derivatives will be subject to regulation and authorization moving forward, as means of protecting individuals and investors compliant with their usage. These are:

  • Cryptocurrency Futures: Much like stock futures, these operate as a mutual agreement between the buyer and the seller to exchange cryptocurrencies at a future date at a set price.
  • Cryptocurrency Contracts for Differences (CFDs): A derivative contract secured in cash, CFDs allow both parties to avoid the losses which may happen due to peaks and troughs in the value of a cryptocurrency. Parties agree to pay the difference in price between the beginning and end of the CFD.
  • Cryptocurrency Options: Much like stock options, it's an agreement which allows the beneficiary to acquire or sell cryptocurrencies.

New regulations brought forward by the FCA indicate a higher level of security for those undertaking transactions in cryptocurrencies. The UK has wrangled with the legal quandary that ICOs represent for the last few years.

Going forward, any ICO launched and obtaining crowdfunding within the UK will likely require authorization and continued scrutiny by the FCA.

Bank of England Governor Recommends Replacing Dollar With 'Libra-Like' Digital Currency

  • BOE Governor Mark Carney proposed replacing the US dollar with a libra-like digital currency as the global reserve. 
  • Called for a dramatic shift in policy to address the changing economic landscape. 

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney has made a radical recommendation for central banks that the U.S. dollar be replaced with a Libra-like digital reserve currency. 

Replacing the Dollar

Speaking at the Federal Reserve’s annual Jackson Hole Symposium on Aug. 23, Carney called for a dramatic shift in global monetary policy that would see central banks taking a greater interest in digital currencies such as Facebook’s forthcoming libra. 

The BOE Governor’s proposal would replace the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency with a digital alternative. While it was unclear if Carney was actually suggesting that libra could be used to fill the void, his intent was to spur interest in a fiat alternative for global reserves. 

Carney argued that proactively replacing the dollar with a digital coin substitute would be preferable to allowing another national currency usurp its status--such as the Chinese renminbi. 

He pointed to the global economic uncertainty in part being generated by deteriorating U.S. trade relations, 

The combination of heightened economic policy uncertainty, outright protectionism and concerns that further, negative shocks could not be adequately offset because of limited policy space is exacerbating the disinflationary bias in the global economy.

He continued, 

When change comes, it shouldn’t be to swap one currency hegemon for another. Any unipolar system is unsuited to a multi-polar world. We would do well to think through every opportunity, including those presented by new technologies, to create a more balanced and effective system.

Cryptocurrencies Gaining Prominence

The introduction of a non-fiat currency could have the effect of devaluing the dollar, and most national currencies, which could be one way for central banks to introduce inflation to erode away the record levels of debt accumulating globally. 

Some have speculated that an alternative asset such as gold could be used as an intermediate. However Carney, who announced several months ago he would be stepping down as Governor of the BOE, has shown a route to fiat alternatives which includes the creation of digital currencies.

He lauded the technology for its efficiency in payments and cross-border transactions, 

The most high profile of these has been Libra – a new payments infrastructure based on an international stablecoin fully backed by reserve assets in a basket of currencies including the US dollar, the euro, and sterling. It could be exchanged between users on messaging platforms and with participating retailers.

While Carney’s suggestion to replace the U.S. dollar is one of the most radical proposals yet, it does give insight into the global trend in central banks to pursue digital currencies as an alternative to their outdated fiat counterparts.