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News/Parallel Paths: UK’s Distaste For Crypto As Gambling and the Rise of Regulatory Frameworks

Parallel Paths: UK’s Distaste For Crypto As Gambling and the Rise of Regulatory Frameworks

Jul 20 2023

11 months ago2 minutes read

UK Insists on Divergence: Crypto Is No Gambling Game

Written by Van

In a striking rebuke to equating the virtual with the vicarious, the UK's HM Treasury firmly rejected suggestions made by the House of Commons Treasury Committee. The rejected proposal mooted the idea of regulating cryptocurrencies akin to gambling.

The Treasury Committee had drawn parallels between the volatile nature of cryptocurrencies and the speculative essence of gambling early in May. However, the HM Treasury did not share this vision.


Contrary Plea by Financial Services Minister

Andrew Griffith, the Financial Services Minister, detailed how such an outlook was in disagreement with recommendations proposed by international organizations. Iconic bodies such as the International Organization of Securities Commissions and the G20 Financial Stability Board represent contradictory principles when it comes to cryptocurrency regulation. 

Furthermore, Griffith argued that a gambling regulatory framework, applied to cryptos, may not adequately address the risks associated with them. Cryptos bring with them the threat of manipulation, the potential commingling of customer assets, and uncertainty about financial risk management practices.


Towards a Tailored Framework

The UK government, on the other hand, is leaning towards a financial services regulatory framework. They believe this method would be better suited to monitor the risks that come associated with cryptocurrencies while promoting safe innovation.

Currently, legislation is in the pipeline aiming to oversee the crypto market, which may come to the fore by the end of this year. 

The UK shares the ambition with the Treasury Committee to become a crypto hub. The government recognizes that specific crypto assets can lead to increased efficiencies in financial markets and payments, thanks to their underlying technology. 

Following the same narrative, the government plans to establish Financial Market Infrastructure (FMI) sandboxes. These will help companies to experiment with blockchain technology as it seeks to foster a more efficient, resilient, and transparent market.


Setting Prudential Grounds: UK's Financial Conduct Authority

digital sandbox.webp

The UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) keeps vigilance in maintaining a register of authorized crypto firms. These firms work under anti-money laundering regulations of the country. With the Treasury and Parliament's approval, the FCA will provide its input on prudential rules for crypto firms.

Currently, the FCA expects investment firms to evaluate capital adequacy and risk. These firms are responsible for identifying potential harm to investors and ensuring the availability of resources to alleviate said harm.

Adding to this, the FCA issued a warning to firms working with crypto companies, urging them to have strong systems in place against financial crimes and always review their partner firms' registration status.

As the UK primes itself to claim its space as a global cryptocurrency leader, the FCA gears up to become the linchpin regulator of the country's crypto sector. The government is facilitating the process via a recently approved financial markets bill, which bestows new powers upon FCA.


Fostering Innovation: All Roads Lead to Sandbox

The FCA announced the beginning of a new era of regulatory framework experimentation. With the launch of its Digital Sandbox, it has rolled out a platform accessible for businesses, startups, and data providers exploring innovation in banking, investment, lending, and payment transactions. 

This initiative is not just about fostering creativity and innovation; it's also about setting the stage for an era of international competitiveness and promoting economic growth. The sandbox allows firms to test their products and services in a controlled setting under no substantial real-world repercussions. 

Along the same lines, the UK's Economic and Finance Ministry proposed another sandbox - 'financial market infrastructure sandbox' back in April 2022. It also introduced plans for implementing regulations on payment stablecoins.

Additionally, HM Treasury has sought public input for a digital securities sandbox, which is set to include cryptocurrency products. 


FAQs

1. Why has the UK's HM Treasury disagreed with regulating crypto as gambling? 

The UK's HM Treasury opposed such regulation, stating the gambling framework fails to address unique risks associated with cryptocurrencies properly, such as market manipulation and commingling of customer assets. They argue for a financial services regulation as much more effective.

2. What is the current regulatory state of crypto firms in the UK?

The UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) now monitors a registry of crypto firms authorized to operate under anti-money laundering regulations in the UK. They plan to introduce prudential norms for these firms soon.

3. What future initiatives are in place for the regulation of cryptocurrencies?

The country plans to establish a legislative framework potentially in force by the end of the year. The creation of Financial Market Infrastructure (FMI) sandboxes for testing blockchain technology is also in progress.

4. What is the FCA's role in crypto regulation in the UK?

The FCA seeks to be the central regulatory authority for the crypto sector in the UK. It will work on prudential rules for crypto firms, focusing on capital adequacy and risk assessment.

5. What is the objective of the FCA's Digital Sandbox?

The Digital Sandbox allows innovative firms to operate in a controlled environment, testing their products and services without major real-world consequences. It aims to support economic growth, international competitiveness, and the introduction of new, innovative products and services. 


In Conclusion

The UK is leaving no stone unturned in its quest to spearhead as a global crypto hub. It has positioned itself firmly against treating cryptocurrencies as a game of risk, favoring instead a more comprehensive, clear-cut financial regulatory framework.

Their future-focused approach, evidenced in initiatives such as the permanent Digital Sandbox and forthcoming regulatory legislation, attests to their commitment to fostering a crypto-friendly business environment.

This article has been refined and enhanced by ChatGPT.

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