Bank of England and regulators assess crypto regulation in raft of new reports

A bundle of interrelated documents remind financial institutions of their responsibilities and look at the state of crypto regulation in the U.K.

The Bank of England Financial Policy Committee and other U.K. regulators are assessing crypto regulation after publishing reports on financial stability relating to cryptoassets and decentralized finance.

The BoE report was released on Thursday, and the Financial Conduct Authority, or FCA, along with the Bank’s Prudential Regulation Authority, or PRA, also released documents simultaneously that all reference one another.

The Bank’s committee, or FPC, stated in its 40-page report that cryptoassets and DeFi pose a “limited” risk to the stability of the UK financial system, but it saw that risk growing “as these assets become more interconnected with the wider financial system.” In response, the FPC promised to assess those risks and make recommendations.

The report found the existing regulatory framework sufficient for mitigating risks where crypto technology served the same purposes as traditional finance. The FPC “welcomed” the Treasury’s proposals for stablecoin regulation, including the proposal to bring the Bank into process, and it expressed support for international efforts to regulate DeFi applications.

The FPC advised financial institutions to “take an especially cautious and prudent approach to any adoption” of cryptoassets or DeFi until the regulatory framework is more robust. It was in that context that PRA Deputy Governor and CEO Sam Woods wrote a “Dear CEO” letter to banks, insurance companies, and designated investment firms on exposure to cryptoassets, explicitly referring back to the FPC report and the FCA notice.

The bulk of the Woods letter is taken up with reminding the addressees of existing policies and regulatory frameworks, in light of their increasing interest. The letter also asks for the completion of a survey on the organizations’ existing crypto exposure and plans for the year, due June 3.

The FCA notice reminded regulated firms of their “existing obligations when they are interacting with or exposed to cryptoassets and related services.” It ran through a list of those obligations, including “being clear with customers” on regulation and risk and prudential and custody considerations.

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The FCA gave particular attention to Anti-Money Laundering and registration, pointing out its voluminous list of unregistered cryptoasset businesses. The agency has been investigating a number of those businesses. All unregistered and temporarily registered crypto businesses must complete registration by March 31 or face the possibility of closure in the U.K.

This was not the full extent of crypto-related Bank of England documents released March 24. “Responses to the Bank of England’s Discussion Paper on new forms of digital money” also appeared. It referred back to discussion paper released by the Bank last year on central bank digital currency. The FPC noted that the Bank and Treasury will “launch a consultation” on CBDC this year.