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UK

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The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority has published draft guidance for market players in the developing cryptoassets sector (see CP19/3). This follows a report published last autumn by the UK’s Cryptoasset Taskforce (consisting of the FCA, PRA and Treasury) that explores the UK’s approach to cryptoassets and distributed ledger technology. The FCA has been a relatively late mover in producing practical guidance on crypto compared to other regulators internationally, but was it worth the wait? The…

On 9 January 2019, the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) published advice on ICOs and cryptoassets to the European Commission and other EU institutions.  This development is very much part of the international trend in favour of regulating cryptoassets.  The advice identifies gaps and issues with current EU regulation (or, rather, the absence of it).  For those cryptoassets which are caught by financial regulation, ESMA describes the current regime as inadequate, as it was…

This week HM Revenue & Customs (“HMRC”), the UK’s tax authority, set out its view on how individuals should be taxed when handling cryptoassets which can be used as a method of payment, such as Bitcoin. There are no significant surprises in HMRC’s guidance, which relies on existing principles to determine whether income tax or capital gains tax applies. However, when dealing with cryptoassets, individuals should be aware that they may be subject to additional record keeping obligations and may be required to submit a self assessment tax return in some cases.

Enhanced efficiency, collaboration, transparency and trust are some of the key claims of blockchain technology that are appealing to many industries, including the real estate sector. Land registries around the world (including in Sweden and the Republic of Georgia) are exploring the use of blockchain and smart contracts to enable real estate contracts and property records to be completed and monies distributed in an effective and timely manner. On Monday 1 October, the UK’s HM…

Last month, the UK Law Commission (the “Commission”) launched a consultation paper as part of its latest project to address any uncertainty as to the formalities around the electronic execution of documents. Specifically, the consultation seeks views on the electronic execution of documents where legislation prescribes that a document must be signed or executed as a deed. In England and Wales there is a fair amount of flexibility when it comes to executing documents and…

In February 2018, the UK Treasury Committee launched an inquiry into digital currencies.  In the course of its inquiry the Committee received oral and written evidence from a number of key players in the crypto space, including representatives from Ripple, CryptoUK and Blockchain, together with evidence from the FCA (the UK financial services regulator), the Bank of England and HM Treasury. Earlier than expected, the Treasury Committee published its crypto-assets report and conclusions and recommendations…

On 11 June, the UK’s financial services regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), published a “Dear CEO letter” providing guidance on how banks should handle the financial crime risks associated with cryptoassets. The FCA is concerned that cryptoassets are being used in criminal activities such as money laundering or terrorist financing. The regulator expects banks to take reasonable and proportionate measures to lessen the risk of facilitating such crimes. The FCA notes that where banks…

The UK government launched its first FinTech Sector Strategy in March 2018. One plank of its strategy was to create a Cryptoassets Task Force formed of representatives of the Treasury, the Bank of England, and the Financial Conduct Authority. The Task Force is intended to help the UK be at the forefront of harnessing the potential benefits of the new technology, while guarding against potential risks. In particular, the Task Force is expected to assess…

To date, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the UK financial services regulator has made clear (via its Feedback statement on DLT) that cryptocurrencies are not currently regulated, provided they are not part of any other regulated products or services. Nonetheless it has published a series of consumer warnings  – on ICOs and the risks of investing in cryptocurrency CFDs. On April 6, 2018 the FCA issued a further statement warning that, in its view, cryptocurrency…

In April 2017, England’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) published a Discussion Paper (“DP”) on DLT which sought views on the regulatory implications of DLT developments in financial markets and considered the potential risks and benefits of DLT applications. The FCA received 47 responses to the DP from a range of market participants and on 15 December 2017 the FCA published its Feedback Statement. No need to change rules In its Feedback Statement, the FCA points…