UK Seeks to Recognize Crypto as Regulated Industry

The U.K. government has introduced new legal measures that would regulate crypto ads and ban unauthorized crypto providers from offering services.

Amendments introduced by minister Andrew Griffith to his own bill on Friday have been welcomed by an industry that had called for existing proposals to extend beyond stablecoins, which are payments-focused cryptoassets that seek to maintain value with respect to fiat currencies.

The measures amend existing laws to "clarify that the powers relating to financial promotion and regulated activities can be relied on to regulate cryptoassets and activities relating to cryptoassets," said an explanatory note tabled by Griffith and published Friday, as an amendment to the Financial Services and Markets Bill. Under the U.K. laws dating back to 2000, it is prohibited to carry out regulated financial activities without permission.

The measures seem likely to find favor with an industry that has been crying out for wider regulatory certainty, such has already been offered by the European Union via its Markets in Crypto Assets regulation (MiCA).

"The amendments enable the Treasury and FCA [Financial Conduct Authority] to introduce a full regulatory regime for crypto, a hugely positive step," Nicholas Taylor, head of public policy at crypto exchange Luno told CoinDesk in an emailed statement. Luno is owned by CoinDesk's parent company, the Digital Currency Group.

Andrew Jackson of fintech industry group Innovate Finance also drew attention to the lacuna at a hearing on the bill Wednesday.

Regulators have also been itching to extend their powers to cover crypto. In August the FCA went so far as to set out the restrictions it wants to put on crypto ads, in advance of legislation.

The bill is due to be discussed in committee between now and Nov. 3, but may be affected by the departure of Prime Minister Liz Truss announced Thursday. The nomination of a successor, due next week, may herald a change in other ministerial positions.

Read more: Bank of England Must Consider Private Stablecoins in Developing Digital Pound, Lobbyist Says