UK markets watchdog proposes retail ban on crypto derivatives

Britain’s markets watchdog is proposing banning the sale of derivatives based on crypto-assets to retail consumers due to what it considers the prevalence of market abuses.

Representations of the Ripple, Bitcoin, Etherum and Litecoin virtual currencies are seen on a PC motherboard in this illustration picture, February 13, 2018. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/Files

LONDON: Britain’s markets watchdog is proposing banning the sale of derivatives based on crypto-assets to retail consumers due to what it considers the prevalence of market abuses.

Prices of crypto-assets – which include currencies like bitcoin as well as tokens representing other tradeable assets – are very volatile, and there is a lack of a clear investment need for products referencing them, the Financial Conduct Authority said on Wednesday.

The FCA “considers these products are ill-suited to retail consumers who cannot reliably assess the value and risks of derivatives or exchange traded notes (ETNs) that reference certain crypto-assets,” it said in a statement.

There was no reliable basis for valuing the assets underpinning the derivatives, and there was a “prevalence of market abuse and financial crime” in the secondary market for crypto-assets, such as cyber theft.

“We estimate the potential benefit to retail consumers from banning these (derivative) products to be in a range from 75 million pounds (US$94 million) to 234.3 million pounds a year,” it said.

(US$1 = 0.7954 pounds)

(Reporting by Huw Jones, editing by Kirstin Ridley and John Stonestreet)

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