Marcus Hughes, the British lawyer and lead counsel for San Francisco-based crypto exchange Coinbase, predicts that 2019 is going to be the year that we see big changes in bitcoin regulations.
Hughes remarked, “Within the next year or two, we’ll see big developments, and regulation will take shape this year, particularly in Europe.”
He pointed to the fact that the United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is in the process of carrying out a consultation regarding crypto derivatives. This could see a ban on the sale of derivatives based on cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin. Furthermore, the British government has pledged to empower the FCA to oversee all crypto assets.
An article in the UK’s Daily Telegraph at the end of 2018 also revealed that the FCA is investigating 18 companies “in connection with cryptocurrency transactions amid escalating concern over the threat posed by Bitcoin and other digital assets to the integrity of financial markets.” But that is not all: the FCA has opened 67 inquiries since November and is clearly stepping up its scrutiny of all firms involved with crypto in any manner.
Nicky Morgan MP, who hairs the influential Treasury select committee, said, “t is clear that the government and the FCA share the committee’s concerns on crypto-assets, including the lack of regulation, minimal consumer protection and anonymity aiding money laundering … The committee will keep a close eye on these consultations and will continue to press for regulation.”
And the European Banking Authority is calling for standardised regulations for cryptocurrency operations within the European Union. This is to remove the potential for “unfair regulatory arbitrage while protecting bitcoin and cryptocurrency investors across the bloc.”
Hughes said about this scenario: “We could end up with E.U. member states creating their own crypto laws, but it’s certainly possible we’ll get a unified approach in Europe. It would make life for companies like Coinbase a lot easier.”
He also has his own views on the future of bitcoin, which also reflect those of Coinbase: “We need to move beyond the speculation phase of bitcoin and cryptocurrency to the utility phase. The utility phase will mean bitcoin and crypto becomes more widely accepted and understood.”
He also commented on the arrival of institutional investors in the crypto sphere, saying: “I would be surprised if other traditional financial services executives didn’t make the move across to the bitcoin and cryptocurrency world. As the industry matures and is better regulated it will need the talent and experience to manage it.”