Two EU Regulators Comment on Crypto and ICOs, Potential for EU-Wide Rules

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Today, both the European Banking Authority (EBA) and the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) came out with comments on the cryptocurrency and ICO space.

ESMA says it has been communicating with the national competent authorities of EU member states, which are facing challenges on how crypto assets fit in with existing requirements. The agency released a statement recommending EU-level action for tackling concerns related to crypto assets. ESMA chair Steven Maijoor stated:

“In order to have a level playing field and to ensure adequate investor protection across the EU, we consider that the gaps and issues identified would best be addressed at the European level.”

When it comes to crypto assets that qualify as MiFID financial instruments, ESMA says existing regulations could require additional work to account for the unique properties of crypto assets. For crypto assets that cannot be classified as financial instruments, ESMA says that “the absence of applicable financial rules leaves investors exposed to substantial risks.”

At a minimum, ESMA recommends that anti-money laundering laws should be applied to all crypto assets and related activities.

The European Banking Authority released a report on crypto assets in which it provides an outline of different types of crypto assets and the role of EU agencies in the space. The EBA recommends a cost/benefit analysis to determine if EU-level regulation of crypto assets is an appropriate measure.

EBA’s executive director, Adam Farkas, commented:

“The EBA's warnings to consumers and institutions on virtual currencies remain valid. The EBA calls on the European Commission to assess whether regulatory action is needed to achieve a common EU approach to crypto-assets. The EBA continues to monitor market developments from a prudential and consumer perspective.”

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