UK’s FCA to ban cryptocurrency-derivative products

The regulator believes that some of these products are not suited for retail consumers

An image of a view of London from Trafalgar Square
It does not seem like the sale of cryptocurrencies would be hindered by the implementation of the ban

The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) announced on Tuesday it had banned some cryptocurrency-based products in order to safeguard the interests of their retail consumers.

Starting next year, on January 6, 2021, businesses based in the UK will no longer be allowed to sell, market, or distribute products that track the prices of crypto-assets.

This includes futures, options, exchange-traded notes, and contracts-for-difference.

While analysts believe that the decision will not have an effect on the actual sale of the cryptocurrencies, online trading platforms for cryptocurrencies such as Ether, Bitcoin and Ripple are expected to be hit by the new regulation.

The FCA explained that the decision was made to protect retail consumers from being exposed to unexpected financial losses due to unregulated crypto-assets. Retail consumers are also vulnerable to the volatile market and unreliable valuations.

The regulator added that unregulated crypto assets are not suited to retail consumers for multiple reasons.

The interim executive director at the FCA, Sheldon Mills, said that the ban highlights the authority’s commitment in ensuring the safety of their consumers.

“This ban reflects how seriously we view the potential harm to retail consumers in these products. Consumer protection is paramount here,” Mills explained.

He added that the FCA has evidence of retail investors that are losing massive volumes on trading crypto-derivatives, and that the ban would give these investors the protection they need.

However, the ban does not mean that the use of cryptocurrencies itself would be hindered. Danny Scott, the CEO and co-founder of CoinCorner, a crypto wallet, explained the intention behind the ban.

“Recently the UK FCA introduced an option for Bitcoin and cryptocurrency companies to register with them as a first step towards forming a regulatory framework around such assets,” he began.

“They’re comfortable with these assets and seemingly have a pro stance, they’re just not comfortable with companies packaging them up in traditional trader focused products that the everyday person doesn’t understand, yet has easy access to via some services.”

This decision by the FCA was finalised one year after they had proposed such a ban.  The regulator cited that there was a need to ban the products due to “complex contracts built on top of complex assets”.

During the time of the decision, it was estimated that between $345 million and $583 million could be saved per year.

A little while after the announcement was released, shares in online trading platforms fell by two to three percent.

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