IMF reiterates call for crypto regulation after the ecosystem’s ‘rough year’

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The International Monetary Fund, or IMF, has pointed to the collapse of FTX as well as “turmoil” in the banking sector in its calls for regulation of digital assets.

In its Global Financial Stability Report released on April 11, the IMF renewed calls for “comprehensive and consistent regulation and adequate supervision” following the failures of cryptocurrency firms including FTX as well as the subsequent collapse of crypto-friendly banks, including Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank. According to the financial agency, regulation for entities in the crypto asset ecosystem — with “strict prudential requirements” for stablecoin issuers — should include the storage, transfer, exchange, and custody of reserves for digital assets.

“[Silicon Valley Bank]’s spillover from the core financial sector reverberated across the crypto ecosystem and financial institutions exposed to it,” said the report. “Its failure resulted in a depegging of two stablecoins (Circle USDC and Dai), which held uninsured deposits in the bank, as well as the demise of Signature Bank of New York because investors became concerned about its footprint in the crypto sector. These events add to questions about the viability of digital assets and reinforce the need for appropriate regulation.”

The report cited a “rough year for crypto” in 2022, pointing to the collapse of the FTX exchange — not the failures of Terraform Labs, Celsius Network, or others which preceded the firm’s bankruptcy filing — as an event which “created significant contagion” in the ecosystem. However, the IMF reported that the impact outside of the crypto space due to these collapses was largely “limited.”

Criticism of cryptocurrencies and digital assets is nothing new for the IMF. In February, the agency’s executive board endorsed a policy framework that did not include recognizing crypto as legal tender. However, members have reportedly leaned towards regulating digital assets rather than outright banning them.

Related: IMF examines CBDC design in context of Islamic banking, finds some risks magnified

The international monitoring body Financial Stability Board plans to publish its own recommendations for regulatory and supervisory approaches to crypto assets and stablecoins in July 2023. The G20 also reported in February that the board would be releasing “a synthesis paper integrating the macroeconomic and regulatory perspectives of crypto assets” in coordination with the IMF in September.

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