EU Regulators Warn on Bitcoin, VC Risks

The EU regulators for banking, securities, and insurance and pensions have warned consumers of the risks associated with cryptocurrency investments.

Europe’s leading regulators for banking, insurance, and securities have issued a joint warning related to virtual currencies (VC). Cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, are extremely volatile and exhibit all characteristics of a pricing bubble so crypto investors could lose large amounts or even all of the funds they have put up, according to the European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs) for banking (EBA), securities (ESMA), and insurance and pensions (EIOPA).

The ESAs move comes amid worries that many crypto investors are not aware of the potential risks.

The statement, which came out on Monday, noted that VCs and crypto exchanges are not regulated in the EU, which means crypto investors cannot benefit from any insurance or protection related to financial products. For instance, if a crypto exchange disappears with the funds of its clients or suffers a cyber-attack, no EU law can help customers recoup their losses.

Besides, the EU regulators are concerned about operational issues.

“Some VC exchanges have been subject to severe operational problems in the past. During these disruptions, consumers have been unable to buy and sell VCs when they wanted to and have suffered losses due to price fluctuations during the period of disruption,” the notice said.

The document provides some basic background information, saying that digital currencies can be found in many forms. Launched in 2009, Bitcoin is the first VC. Most of the cryptocurrencies are backed by a blockchain, also called distributed ledger technology.

Earlier, ESMA issued two warning statements on initial coin offerings (ICOs). The regulator also asked for public feedback in relation to cryptocurrency-based contracts for differences (CFDs).

The EBA published a warning on virtual currencies in December 2013, and two opinions, one in July 2014, and one in August 2016.