The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), the European Union’s (EU) financial regulatory institution, has reportedly allocated over €1 million from its annual budget to “keep abreast of trends in financial innovation and crypto assets.”

According to FinExtra, ESMA has budgeted approximately €48 million for monitoring Europe’s financial markets during 2019. At present, the regulator is carefully examining the emerging trends in financial technologies and how retail investors have been responding to them.

Hiring Full-Time Staff To Research Cryptos

In order to further study Europe’s financial sector and the use of cryptocurrencies, ESMA is planning to hire 6 full-time staff members to take a “coordinated approach to the regulation and supervisory treatment” of emerging financial instruments.

The newly appointed staff will also have to “provide advice [regarding Europe’s digital assets industry] to present to the EU institutions, market participants or consumers.” As CryptoGlobe reported last month, the European Commission’s vice president, Valdis Dombrovskis, had said that the EU’s finance ministers realized “crypto assets are here to stay.”

“Opportunities And Risks”

Dombrovskis’ comments about digital currencies came during a meeting of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (Ecofin) held in Austria on September 7th. Specifically, the European ministers discussed “the opportunities and the risks involved [with cryptos], and also a possible regulation of this global phenomenon.”

Although it seems that European authorities have begun to take cryptocurrencies more seriously, they still account for an insignificant portion of the multi-trillion dollar global economy. According to a report by giant Wall Street investment bank, Goldman Sachs, digital assets currently make up only 0.3% of the world’s GDP.

Given that cryptocurrencies are an emerging asset class, the majority of ESMA’s budget for financial markets regulatory oversight has been allocated for helping to conduct data management and gathering statistics.

Data Management, Financial Statistics

For the financial year (FY) 2019, ESMA has reportedly budgeted €10 million for the operational costs (including human resources) associated with managing financial data. There are 18 different, or separate, databases and other IT systems operated by ESMA that require regular maintenance.

It’s still “early days” for cryptos, however, an increasing number of traditional markets analysts now think they can be considered a legitimate asset class. As CryptoGlobe reported recently, Ric Edelman, a top-ranked American financial advisor and New York Times best-selling author, said that cryptocurrencies are a legitimate financial instrument.

Edelman’s comments came after Bitwise Asset Management, a leading provider of crypto index funds, announced that Edelman had invested in its company’s operations. Edelman revealed that most financial advisors were still unfamiliar with digital currencies and his “goal is to raise the bar of awareness, education, understanding, and knowledge so that advisors can be of greater value to their clients.”