Crypto Gloom, Busy Regulators and the Rise of DeFi

Oh my! Bitcoin and friends have taken another dive last week with the price of BTC hitting pre-bull run levels. It comes on the back of some bad news for cryptocurrencies, but thankfully there is other stuff we can talk about, too, in the latest edition of the FinTechnologist Weekly:


A Look into the Beehive

Tough Times for Crypto

The sentiment in the crypto community hasn’t been great over the last couple of weeks, but last week just made matter worse. One thing at a time though: the first drop came after renewed fears that China might bring in more regulation. The People’s Bank of China released a statement, saying that “virtual currency trading activities disrupt the normal economic and financial orders, breed the risks of illegal cross-border transfer of assets, money laundering and other illegal and criminal activities, and seriously infringe the people’s property safety.” Then there was more talk about the potential of new rules and more enforcement action in the U.S. though there is some uncertainty following last week’s news about SEC sitting tight for now. In any case, such rumors and uncertainty aren’t good for traditional markets, nor are they for crypto markets. And to add to those worries, yesterday, the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) issued a consumer warning on Binance, one of the world’s biggest cryptocrurrency exchanges. The regulator stress that no entity in the Binance Group is permitted to undertake any regulated activity in the UK. The question about crypto assets as a regulated activity is obviously a slightly different one, but the move shows who serious things are since regulators in general only take to publicly shaming a company when there really is something happening.


The Future of DeFi

This move also might be a reaction to the fact that regulators in general find it difficult to keep up with technical developments. It’s always a game of catching up, but in particular in the DeFi space, authorities have struggled to follow events, but as the FT writes, regulators begin to grapple with DeFi and Blockchain projects, which is worth reading.

Apparently, representatives of some cryptocurrency start-ups educated global financial regulators on a conference call on DeFi, which in many jurisdictions has not had a prime spot on the agenda yet. However, overwhelmed by the rapid growth of DeFi in the past year, which caught authorities off guard, cryptocurrency advocates also raisedunprecedented questions about the nature of financial regulation.

As with many other developments, it is balancing act for regulators, between keeping up with technological developments, assessing the risks for markets and consumers, while taking care of not smothering new activities. At the same time, regulatory guidance is generally favourable as it provides clarity and removes the kind of uncertainty we talked about above.

Following the CFTC’s stance as laid out recently and other activity at regulators could only be the beginning though and it will be an interesting space to watch. Stay tuned!


Busy as a Bee

And because we’ve been talking so much about regulators and what they are up to, let’s finish today’s edition with a look at the annual report of the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA).

The paper gives you an overview of the work carried out by ESMA in 2020, with the revised ESMA Regulation entering into force, more amendments to the European Market Infrastructure Regulation (EMIR 2.2), an update onESMA’s governance and introducing new mandates for the organisation, Brexit, and, of course, its response to the global Covid pandemic. It’s been a busy year, but it doesn’t look like things have become much easier this year for ESMA or its sister agency, the European Banking Authority, who recently published the EBA’s annual report, too.

The annual reports don’t just look back at what happened in the past, though, which might lead you to ask what’s the point. In most cases, they also lay out the strategic priorities for the future, so it really might be worth taking a look.




That’s all for this week but ff you have an interesting story or would join me on the podcast, connect on Twitter.


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