Crypto-asset companies should set aside capital like banks when undertaking similar activities, regulators proposed on Tuesday in their first global rules as a “crypto winter” wiped US$2-trillion off the sector, leaving investors nursing losses.
The Financial Stability Board (FSB), which co-ordinates financial rule-making among Group of 20 economies (G20), made nine recommendations for members to apply.
Currently, the sector is largely unregulated in most countries, having to only comply with rules for safeguarding against money laundering and terrorist financing as regulators warn investors they risk losing every penny.
Klaas Knot, the Dutch central bank president who chairs the FSB, said the “crypto winter” or recent sharp pullback in cryptocurrencies, has reinforced the board’s assessment of existing structural vulnerabilities.
The FSB has said crypto, which has a combined value of about US$935-billion compared with US$3-trillion at its peak in November last year, are not big enough to threaten financial stability, but rules were needed to regulate a likely recovery.
“Concerns about the risks they pose to financial stability are therefore likely to come back to the fore sooner rather than later,” Mr. Knot said in a letter to G20 finance ministers meeting in Washington this week.
FSB recommends putting in place a framework for oversight, and managing risks and data at crypto firms, and having plans in place for a smooth shutting down of crypto-asset firms in trouble.
“Several crypto-asset lenders failed during the recent market turmoil as a result of vulnerability to runs, thin capitalization, concentrated exposures to risky entities, and risky trading and business ventures,” the FSB said.
The proposals seek cross-border consistency to regulating crypto-assets, particularly as the European Union finalizes groundbreaking rules to regulate the sector from 2024.
The underlying principle is that the same activity should be regulated in the same way, whether undertaken by a crypto-asset company, bank or payments provider, and that crypto firms may need to separate some functions to ensure this, the FSB said.
The proposals have been put out to public consultation until Dec. 15, before being finalized by mid-2023, when FSB members would be expected to fast-track their implementation.
The FSB also reviewed its guidance on regulating stablecoins, a type of cryptocurrency usually backed by a currency like the dollar or assets.
The crash of the dollar-backed Terra stablecoin in May highlighted the high risk of loss and potential fragility of stablecoins that lack a stabilization mechanism, the FSB said.
The watchdog said that most existing stablecoins don’t meet its guidance and it proposed revisions to the guidance include strengthening governance and stabilization mechanisms of stablecoins, and clarifying and strengthening redemption rights.