Why we are proposing changes
We believe that retail consumers can’t reliably assess the value and risks of derivatives (contracts for difference, futures and options) and exchange traded notes (ETNs) that reference certain cryptoassets. This is due to the:
- inherent nature of the underlying assets, which have no reliable basis for valuation
- presence of market abuse and financial crime (including cyberthefts from cryptoasset platforms) in the secondary market for cryptoassets
- extreme volatility in cryptoasset prices movements
- inadequate understanding by retail consumers of cryptoassets and the lack of a clear investment need for investment products referencing them
We think these issues will cause retail consumers harm from sudden and unexpected losses if they invest in these products. We estimate a ban could reduce harm by £19m to £101m a year for retail investors.
Who this affects
This PS will be particularly relevant for:
- firms issuing or creating products referencing cryptoassets
- firms distributing products referencing cryptoassets, including brokers and investment platforms, and financial advisers
- firms marketing products referencing cryptoassets
- operators of trading venues and platforms
- retail consumers and consumer organisations
It is likely that this PS will be relevant to additional stakeholders, both regulated and unregulated.
There is growing evidence that cryptoassets are causing harm to consumers and markets. As a result, the UK Cryptoassets Taskforce, consisting of the Treasury, the FCA and the Bank of England, published a Final Report in October 2018 setting out the UK’s policy and regulatory approach to cryptoassets and made a number of commitments. It included a commitment to consult on a potential ban on the sale to retail consumers of derivatives that reference certain types of cryptoassets.
In July 2019, we published CP19/22 (PDF). This PS summarises the feedback we received. It sets out our final policy position, and Handbook rules that will come into force.
We are publishing final rules with this PS. Firms who carry out marketing, distribution or selling activities in, or from, the UK of the relevant products to retail clients, will need to comply with these rules by 6 January 2021.