The FCA says it is looking at a potential ban on the sale of cryptocurrency derivatives based on cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, in a move that would make it the first major intervention in what is a new derivative of the crypto market.
The FCA said it would launch a consultation in Q1 2019 on whether to prohibit the sale of derivatives — such as contracts for difference, options and futures — based on cryptocurrencies to retail investors. The FCA statement was published alongside a long-awaited report by the Cryptoasset Taskforce, which is made up of representatives of the FCA, the UK Treasury and the Bank of England.
The task force launched a review in April following concerns that the largely unregulated cryptocurrency market is vulnerable to fraud and manipulation, and can be used by criminals to facilitate money laundering. The FCA said it had “made clear that in its view cryptoassets have no intrinsic value and investors should therefore be prepared to lose all the value they have put in”. The regulator also said that cryptoassets posed “potential future threats to financial stability”.
In its report, the Cryptoasset Taskforce said that leveraged derivatives were even riskier than cryptoassets as they can “cause losses that go beyond the initial investment” and are subject to extra fees. Popular crypto derivatives have recently boosted the revenues of large London-listed online trading platforms, such as IG Group and Plus500.
The regulator also said it would launch a consultation next year on whether and how to regulate cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, as well as the trading infrastructure that supports them, including crypto exchanges and crypto wallet providers.
“Given the complexity and new challenges presented to traditional forms of financial regulation, more time is needed to consider how regulation can meaningfully address the risks posed by exchange tokens, such as bitcoin,” the FCA said.