UK’s Push Toward Crypto Framework May Buck Bankers’ Reservations

cryptocurrency regulations

In the push toward cryptocurrency regulations, a fragmented approach still reigns. Depending on where you look, there are outright bans (in China), while other nations, such as the United States, are in the midst of developing crypto frameworks.

See: Stablecoins Under the Microscope as US Preps Digital Currency Framework

There’s at least some prologue to what could be — and indeed, what might be. Back in June, the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision said it was garnering input for preliminary ideas on banks’ exposure to digital assets. Those (eventual) frameworks would touch on Group 1 cryptoassets, which encompass some tokenized traditional assets and stablecoins, and Group 2 cryptoassets. Bitcoin is cited as an example of a Group 2 cryptoasset.  The cryptos would reportedly face additional, conservative treatment due to perceived higher risks.  It’s important to note that central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) are not part of what’s being discussed — which to our mind means that the road is becoming ever clearer for CBDC issuance.

Learn more: Basel Committee Exploring Cryptoasset Regulation For Banks

Some Pushback (Already) 

The emergence of those mandates already is getting pushback from several banks in the U.S. and in Europe — under the Global Financial Markets Association. Those financial institutions (FI)s contend that the proposals in the consultation are too conservative, and would (according to a letter from the association) “preclude” banks from holding cryptos.

Read here: Banking Bosses Opposed to Basel Crypto Mandates

In one signal that there may be some urgency to get those guardrails in place, Reuters reported last week that Sam Woods, deputy governor of the Bank of England, “stands by the recent rules” coming from Basel — and will bring those rules to bear within the U.K., if it is perceived that the banks do not have the capital backing needed as they take on crypto.

“We would not want to stop firms doing things that make commercial sense, but we would take a very conservative view on capital treatment, and if necessary, we would therefore front run, maybe not exactly in the same way, but we would put some capital measures in place,” Woods told Reuters, according to last week’s report.

The statements, we note, show a determination to have structure in place even in the face of some banking/regulatory hesitancy seen elsewhere around the globe. In other words, at least temporarily, Britain would be willing to stand in front (perhaps, alone?) as rules take shape. That might lead, at least over the short term, to even more fragmentation, as the U.K. waits for others to catch up and implement the same rules.

Recent PYMNTS data shows the interest that multinational firms and the FIs that serve them have in the cryptocurrency space. As many as 58 percent of multinational firms are using cryptos to transact and/or hold on their balance sheets. About 10 percent of FIs provide access to cryptos, and 73 percent of FIs plan to expand access to crypto-related products and services through the next 12 months.

Read more: 58 Percent Of Multinational Firms Are Using Cryptocurrency