In January I wrote about the different approaches that national regulators are taking to regulating cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings (ICOs). At that time, many regulators were still cautious about how to approach this relatively new asset and the FCA was notable for taking a passive, wait-and-see approach.
It appears that this is now changing. As reported in the Financial Times today, in the USA the Commodity Futures Trading Commission has launched an investigation into four exchanges to probe possible manipulation. The probe has caused a drop in the value of all major cryptocurrencies.
In the UK, a Freedom of Information request revealed that the FCA is currently investigating 24 businesses that deal with cryptocurrencies and has opened seven whistleblowing reports so far in 2018 relating to cryptocurrencies. As noted in the Financial Times, which reported this news, the FCA has stated that it will "continue to monitor the appropriateness of the existing regulatory framework".
In some ways, this does not signal a significant change. The FCA still reserves the right to monitor its framework. However, this does show a notable level of activity by the FCA 'behind the scenes'.
It is also interesting that LMAX Exchange - which is regulated by the FCA - launched a dedicated cryptocurrency exchange at the end of May. The continuing high levels of activity around cryptocurrencies and ICOs are pushing the FCA to become more involved in this space. It remains to be seen what position the FCA will ultimately take on adopting formal regulation, and what form this would take, but the "wait-and-see" approach seems to be becoming harder to maintain.
Bitcoin slid to a two-month low on Monday following a report that US regulators had asked cryptocurrency exchanges to provide trading data for a probe into whether possible manipulation was affecting the digital currency’s futures market.