Coinbase UK Legal Counsel: 'Big Developments' Expected this Year For Cryptoassets

Marcus Hughes, the lead counsel of the European region for US-based crypto exchange Coinbase, has predicted that there will be more comprehensive and progressive cryptocurrency regulations that will be introduced this year.

Hughes, a former executive director at Morgan Stanley’s UK division, said in a recent interview with Forbes that the crypto industry will “see big developments” within the “next year or two.” He added that Europe will lead the way in developing a proper cryptoasset regulatory framework.

Financial Conduct Authority Sends Consumer Alerts Regarding 39 Crypto Firms

UK’s financial regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), is reportedly planning on prohibiting the sale of cryptocurrency derivatives products. Last month, the UK’s government had announced it would allow the FCA to monitor all cryptocurrency-related businesses in the country.

As CryptoGlobe reported in later December 2018, the FCA revealed it had ongoing investigations into 18 local firms that were involved in cryptocurrency transactions. In total, the FCA had launched 67 investigations into the operations of UK-based companies dealing in cryptoassets. After closing 49 cases, the regulatory authority had issued consumer alerts regarding 39 firms.

Nicky Morgan, the chair of the UK House of Commons Treasury Select Committee, remarked: 

It is clear that the government and the FCA share the committee’s concerns on cryptoassets, including the lack of regulation, minimal consumer protection and anonymity aiding money laundering … The committee will keep a close eye on these consultations and will continue to press for regulation.

Coinbase "Takes The Long View On Bitcoin"

Meanwhile, Hughes believes:

We could end up with EU member states creating their own crypto laws, but it's certainly possible we'll get a unified approach in Europe. It would make life for companies like Coinbase a lot easier.

Notably, Hughes revealed that his former colleagues at Morgan Stanley think bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrencies “now have staying power”, meaning the emerging asset class will not “go away any time soon.” He also said:

Coinbase takes the long view on bitcoin and wider cryptocurrency prices. We need to move beyond the speculation phase ... to the utility phase. The utility phase will mean [cryptoassets] become more widely accepted and understood.

According to Hughes, there are many more large financial institutions that may be interested in investing in digital assets. However, these institutional investors might still be waiting on the sidelines due to a lack of proper regulations for cryptoassets. He believes “regulation will help a lot, in particular around custody offerings” for digital currencies.