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Bafin research points towards greater regulatory oversight of crypto derivatives

Bafin research points towards greater regulatory oversight of crypto derivatives

German financial services authority Bafin is conducting a market research survey on derivatives backed by cryptocurrencies.

The survey will focus on cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ether as opposed to security tokens and has sought the views of investors, consumer protection associations and other interest groups.

Bafin is seeking to “assess the risks for market participants”, citing the growing interest in recent years risky crypto-backed derivatives such as CFDs.

This follows a trend of regulatory bodies taking steps to subject crypto assets greater scrutiny. Another example being the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS) publishing a paper discussing their prudential treatment.

Direct exposure to crypto assets would be deducted from a bank's Common Equity Tier 1 (CET1) capital as part of one suggestion the paper makes.

The paper also seeks to address the lack of standardised regulatory framework for market risk or counterparty credit risk, and states that banks should not be able to use their own internal approach to accounting for these.

Banks acquiring crypto assets or providing services related thereto should apply a "conservative prudential treatment to such exposures, especially for high-risk crypto assets."

The BCBS proposes that banks should alert their regulatory authorities of any plans to gain exposure to crypto assets and demonstrate that they have evaluated the inherent risks and taken appropriate mitigation action.

The paper highlights that crypto assets are an "immature asset class", and notes that while the market is still relatively small, "the size is meaningful and there continue to be rapid developments."

The BCBS is inviting comments on its paper from banks, central banks, payment providers and other stakeholders by 13th March 2020, after which it will determine what specific action to take.

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