As the value of the bitcoin and related market grows the IMF has called for comprehensive regulation. The main reason is that with $3 trillion in value it now represent more money than the Canadian GDP. With wild swings in value, Bitcoin etc can cause unprecedented upheavals. The IMF is not widely followed which is why I make this post to call more attention to their warnings.

The global regulatory framework should provide a level playing field along the activity and risk spectrum. We believe this should, for example, have the following three elements:

  • Crypto-asset service providers that deliver critical functions should be licensed or authorized. These would include storage, transfer, settlement, and custody of reserves and assets, among others, similar to existing rules for financial service providers. Licensing and authorization criteria should be clearly articulated, the responsible authorities clearly designated, and coordination mechanisms among them well defined.
  • Requirements should be tailored to the main use cases of crypto assets and stablecoins. For example, services and products for investments should have requirements similar to those of securities brokers and dealers, overseen by the securities regulator. Services and products for payments should have requirements similar to those of bank deposits, overseen by the central bank or the payments oversight authority. Regardless of the initial authority for approving crypto services and products, all overseers—from central banks to securities and banking regulators—need to coordinate to address the various risks arising from different and changing uses.
  • Authorities should provide clear requirements on regulated financial institutions concerning their exposure to and engagement with crypto. For example, the appropriate banking, securities, insurance, and pension regulators should stipulate the capital and liquidity requirements and limits on exposure to different types of these assets, and require investor suitability and risk assessments. If the regulated entities provide custody services, requirements should be clarified to address the risks arising from those functions.

Some emerging markets and developing economies face more immediate and acute risks of currency substitution through crypto assets, the so-called cryptoization. Capital flow management measures will need to be fine-tuned in the face of cryptoization. This is because applying established regulatory tools to manage capital flows may be more challenging when value is transmitted through new instruments, new channels and new service providers that are not regulated entities.