Why is harmonisation of crypto regulations a priority for ECB?

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Why is harmonisation of crypto regulations a priority for ECB?

 Why is harmonisation of crypto regulations a priority for ECB?
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Highlights

  • The European Union reached a provisional agreement on its landmark Markets in Crypto-Assets (MiCA) bill on 30 June.
  • The European Central Bank (ECB) is preparing itself to implement the regulations to ensure that all member states are in harmony with the new crypto rules.

A week after the European Union agreed upon a provisional agreement on its landmark Markets in Crypto-Assets (MiCA) bill, the European Central Bank (ECB) stepped in to ensure that all member states are in harmony with crypto regulations before its eventual implementation.

The ECB is worried that possible sweeping changes that the MiCA would bring would overlap with the central banks in the member states and crypto firms operating. To get more insight into the impact, 19 EU member states are expected to attend a supervisory board meeting later this month to discuss the MiCA aspect and how it can be implemented and coexist within the central banks' regulation.

Before this landmark agreement, the financial regulators within the EU region primarily handled crypto regulations as per their respective laws. But once the MiCA is implemented following the 18-month review period, all the member states will have to adhere to the rules.  

Challenges ahead 

The MiCA bill does come with a lot of challenges. Some banks have been quite vocal about the clarity issues when it comes to crypto companies offering financial services. For example, Germany depends on the EU's 2020 Anti-Money Laundering (AML) rules for crypto firms to apply for special permits under the German banking laws. On the other hand, the Netherlands did focus on AML compliance before switching to broader measures following the Russia-Ukraine crisis.

From the crypto firms' point of view, while a few are in favour of the regulations to boost credibility, a few believe it would put them under extreme pressure to reveal every piece of information about their operations.

With no pan-European framework at the moment, the ECB feels an increasing need for harmonisation within the Eurozone. According to Andrea Enria, chair of the ECB's banking supervisory board, one primary challenge that the ECB may face could be the differences in how they view cryptos in their respective countries. For example, Switzerland and Portugal are more open to crypto usage, and often they have been dubbed as crypto havens to avoid taxes compared to other EU countries. Therefore, it would be critical to tread lightly between the authorisation and licensing aspects and engage banks on the topic.

Enria highlighted MiCA rules are yet to be set, and this would be the ideal time to wipe off the dust related to regulatory aspects and act soon to ensure proper harmonisation among the EU member states.

Conclusion

Overall, for increased harmony between all the member states, it's essential that the ECB and nations get together on a common platform to discuss the issues about MiCA and resolve them as soon as possible. Secondly, it also needs to work with central banks and crypto firms to educate them on the rules and changes they will bring about in the functioning ecosystem.

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