FCA Gives Crypto Securities Trading Green Light

Though this latest development is another tick in the box for pro-crypto investors, retail investors won't benefit

Alliance News 11 March, 2024 | 10:44AM Ollie Smith
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London Stock Exchange UK Main

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) won't stand in the way of recognised investment exchanges creating listed market for crypto-asset backed exchange traded notes (ETNs), a new policy update confirms.

"These products would be available for professional investors, such as investment firms and credit institutions authorised or regulated to operate in financial markets only," the FCA said.

The regulator added: "with increased insight and data due to a longer period of trading history, the FCA believes exchanges and professional investors should now be able to better establish whether cETNs meet their risk appetite."

In response, this morning the London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) immediately responded, saying the LSE itself would start to accept applications to list bitcoin and ethereum crypto ETNs from the second quarter of this year. It said an exact launch date would be confirmed "in due course".

However, the ban on the sale of crypto-asset backed exchange traded notes to retail consumers in the UK remains in place.

"The FCA continues to remind people that crypto-assets are high risk and largely unregulated," it said.

"Those who invest should be prepared to lose all their money. The FCA is collaborating with government, international partners and industry to develop the UK's crypto-asset regulatory regime and lead international standards in this space."

LSEG said it will only accept applications for crypto ETNs that are physically backed, meaning non-leveraged. They must have bitcoin or ethereum as their underlying crypto assets, and they must have a market price or other value measure that is reliable and publicly available.

At the start of the year the FCA's US counterpart, the Securities & Exchange Commission, approved the provision and sale of exchange-traded funds linked to the price of bitcoin. The move was widely interpreted as a headwind for bitcoin, though existing regulatory constraints mean UK investors won't be able to participate.

LSEG shares were up 0.1% to 9,272.40 pence early Monday.

By Tom Waite, Alliance News editor

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