BIS Sets Limits on Bank Exposure to Crypto Markets


The Bank of International Settlements has set limits on banks’ exposure to crypto markets.

An official announcement from the BIS issued Friday (Dec. 16) establishes a limit of 2% for crypto reserves at banks, with an implementation deadline of Jan. 1, 2025. In general, banks’ crypto exposure should not exceed 1%, the report said.

The rules, established by the bank’s Basel Committee’s oversight body, backs “a global prudential standard for banks’ exposures to cryptoassets,” the BIS said.

“Today’s endorsement…marks an important milestone in developing a global regulatory baseline for mitigating risks to banks from cryptoassets,” said Tiff Macklem, chair of the BIS’ Group of Central Bank Governors and Heads of Supervision (GHOS).

“It is important to continue to monitor bank-related developments in cryptoasset markets. We remain ready to act further if necessary.”

As PYMNTS wrote earlier this year, while many consumers use crypto to make payments, it’s also commonly an investment instrument.

But banks have been reluctant to advocate crypto investments. A survey of private global banks conducted by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS) found that just seven of 178 banks had direct cryptocurrency exposure.

While more than 100 of the banks performed some crypto-related activity — like trading on clients’ accounts — none of the banks surveyed said they had direct cryptocurrency holdings as long-term investments.

The BCBS report noted that due to traditional financial institutions’ (FIs) lack of involvement, crypto trading and storage has been left largely to unregulated crypto exchanges, essentially forming a “shadow crypto financial system.”

Another survey showed that 80% of FIs have no interest in providing cryptocurrency investing services to their customers, with just 1% of FIs reporting to be very interested in doing so. On the whole, while some banks have begun to dip their toes into crypto, most have not and are not particularly interested in doing so at this time.

And as PYMNTS noted last month during the ongoing FTX crisis, banks’ slow adoption of crypto “now looks prescient. The traditional players in the financial ecosystem may understandably take a wait-and-see approach, in a classic case of once bitten, twice shy.”

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