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UK sets out plans to regulate cryptoassets 

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HM Treasury has published a note saying that the government will set out ambitious plans to ‘robustly regulate cryptoasset activities – providing confidence and clarity to consumers and businesses alike’.

The consultation proposals include strengthening rules for crypto trading platforms and a ‘robust world-first regime for crypto lending’. HM Treasury writes that the announcement delivers on financial services roadmap by embracing technological change and innovation, delivering on the Prime Minister’s plan to grow the economy.

Cryptoassets – commonly known as ‘crypto’ – are, HM Treasury writes, a relatively new, diverse and constantly evolving class of assets that have a range of potential benefits, as well as posing risks to the consumer.

As is common in emerging technology markets, the crypto sector continues to experience high levels of volatility and a number of recent failures have exposed the structural vulnerability of some business models in the sector, the announcement says.

“Our robust approach to regulation mitigates the most significant risks, while harnessing the advantages of crypto technologies. This enables a new and exciting sector to safely flourish and grow, boosting jobs and investment.”

Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Andrew Griffith says: “We remain steadfast in our commitment to grow the economy and enable technological change and innovation – and this includes cryptoasset technology.

“But we must also protect consumers who are embracing this new technology – ensuring robust, transparent, and fair standards.”

Under plans set out by the government today (1 February), it will seek to regulate a broad suite of cryptoasset activities, consistent with its approach to traditional finance.

These proposals will place responsibility on crypto trading venues for defining the detailed content requirements for admission and disclosure documents – ensuring crypto exchanges have fair and robust standards.

The proposals will also strengthen the rules around financial intermediaries and custodians – which have responsibility for facilitating transactions and safely storing customer assets. These steps will help to deliver a robust world-first regime strengthening rules around the lending of cryptoassets, whilst enhancing consumer protection and the operational resilience of firms. As part of this approach, the consultation will seek views on improving market integrity and consumer protection by setting out a proposed crypto market abuse regime.

In addition, to address industry concerns about the small number of Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) authorised cryptoasset firms who can issue their own promotions, HM Treasury is also introducing a time limited exemption. Cryptoasset businesses that are registered with the FCA for anti-money laundering purposes will be allowed to issue their own promotions, while the broader cryptoasset regulatory regime is being introduced.

This approach delivers on the original policy intention of the measure to promote innovation, enhance consumer protection and ensure that cryptoasset promotions can be held to equivalent standards as promotions of financial services products with similar risk profiles.

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