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IMF asks Financial Stability Board to develop a global framework for standards for regulation of crypto assets

IMF Blog | Tobias Adrian, Dong He, and Aditya Narain | Dec 9, 2021

Crypto not so stable - IMF asks Financial Stability Board to develop a global framework for standards for regulation of crypto assets

Crypto assets and associated products and services have grown rapidly in recent years. Furthermore, interlinkages with the regulated financial system are rising. Policymakers struggle to monitor risks from this evolving sector, in which many activities are unregulated. In fact, we think these financial stability risks could soon become systemic in some countries.

Uncoordinated regulatory measures may facilitate potentially destabilizing capital flows.

While the nearly $2.5 trillion market capitalization indicates significant economic value of the underlying technological innovations such as the blockchain, it might also reflect froth in an environment of stretched valuations. Indeed, early reactions to the Omicron variant included a significant crypto selloff.

Financial system risks from crypto assets

Determining valuation is not the only challenge in the crypto ecosystem: identification, monitoring, and management of risks defy regulators and firms. These include, for example, operational and financial integrity risks from crypto asset exchanges and wallets, investor protection, and inadequate reserves and inaccurate disclosure for some stablecoins. Moreover, in emerging markets and developing economies, the advent of crypto can accelerate what we have called “cryptoization”—when these assets replace domestic currency, and circumvent exchange restrictions and capital account management measures.

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Such risks underscore why we now need comprehensive international standards that more fully address risks to the financial system from crypto assets, their associated ecosystem, and their related transactions, while allowing for an enabling environment for useful crypto asset products and applications.

The Financial Stability Board, in its coordinating role, should develop a global framework comprising standards for regulation of crypto assets. The objective should be to provide a comprehensive and coordinated approach to managing risks to financial stability and market conduct that can be consistently applied across jurisdictions, while minimizing the potential for regulatory arbitrage, or moving activity to jurisdictions with easier requirements.

Crypto’s cross-sector and cross-border remit limits the effectiveness of national approaches. Countries are taking very different strategies, and existing laws and regulations may not allow for national approaches that comprehensively cover all elements of these assets. Importantly, many crypto service providers operate across borders, making the task for supervision and enforcement more difficult. Uncoordinated regulatory measures may facilitate potentially destabilizing capital flows.

See:  Regulators race to catch-up with digital asset boom

Standard-setting bodies responsible for different products and markets have provided varying levels of guidance. For example, the Financial Action Task Force has issued guidance for a risk-based approach to mitigating financial integrity risks from virtual assets and their service providers. Actions by other standard-setting bodies range from broad principles for some types of crypto assets to rules for mitigating exposure risks of regulated entities and setting up information exchange networks. While useful, these efforts aren’t sufficiently coordinated towards a global framework for managing the risks to financial and market integrity, financial stability, and consumer and investor protection.

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