Cryptocurrency Regulation in the UK: Gambling or Financial Services? Exploring Lawmakers’ Divide

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U.K. lawmakers seem divided on the regulatory treatment of cryptocurrencies, with some suggesting a classification similar to gambling and others supporting the government’s efforts to include digital assets under existing financial services regulations. Last month, the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee recommended that cryptocurrencies be treated like gambling due to their lack of intrinsic value and extreme price volatility. This suggestion faced quick backlash and opposition from other political figures.

The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for crypto assets released a report supporting the government’s proposal to treat cryptocurrencies as regulated financial services. The group believes that cryptocurrencies and digital assets should be regulated as much as possible within the framework of existing and new financial services regulations, which have a proven track record of mitigating risks for consumers and investors.

The APPG cited tax collection as a primary reason for supporting the government’s stance on treating cryptocurrencies as financial services. According to the group’s chair, Lisa Cameron, when people make gains in the U.K., it is crucial for taxes to be collected. This can only be achieved under the financial services regulation rather than gambling. Winnings from gambling are not taxed, whereas gains on investments generally are.

Another reason for treating cryptocurrencies as financial services is to maintain commonalities with other jurisdictions in terms of their financial services regulations. Establishing a cohesive approach to regulation is essential despite individual jurisdictions currently having different stances on this matter.

Cameron emphasized that the U.K.’s financial services regulations offer the best and most robust protections possible for local consumers. Risks associated with crypto are similar to those in traditional financial services, and it is the financial services regulation that can effectively mitigate them.

The U.K. government plans to develop specific cryptocurrency regulations in phases. The first step is the new Financial Services and Markets Bill, which aims to provide multiple regulators with more power to supervise cryptocurrencies. After the bill’s passage, detailed laws that incorporate cryptocurrencies into the regulatory fold will need to be approved by both houses of Parliament.

In conclusion, the debate on cryptocurrency regulation continues, and opinion among U.K. lawmakers remains divided. The pros and cons include using financial services regulation as a means to collect taxes and protect consumers effectively, versus the potential risks and uncertainties associated with volatile digital assets. Finding a balance that satisfies all parties involved remains a challenge, but it is crucial for ensuring a safe and secure market for crypto enthusiasts.

Source: Coindesk

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