Global exchanges urge Britain not to ban crypto-linked derivatives

LONDON (Reuters) - Global exchanges urged Britain’s markets watchdog on Monday not to ban retail sales of derivatives linked to crypto assets such as bitcoin, saying they were well equipped to protect consumers trading on their platforms.

Crypto assets have attracted considerable consumer interest in some cases, holding out the prospect of lucrative new business activity for market participants.

Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said in July that derivatives and exchange traded notes referencing certain crypto assets were ill-suited to retail consumers who cannot realiably assess value and risks.

In a public consultation paper, the FCA proposed a ban on sales of the products to retail customers. It will announce final rule changes in early 2020.

The World Federation of Exchanges (WFE) said there was a need to find the right balance between enabling innovative products to be traded in Britain, and ensuring consumers are protected.

“The WFE recognizes the volatility identified by the FCA in its consultation report and is supportive of ensuring that proper consumer protection is put in place as a priority for any new and relatively untested product on the market,” the WFE said in a statement.

Exchanges and clearing houses that are members of the WFE are fully regulated, thereby diminishing risk for retail investors from traded products based on crypto assets, the WFE said.

If the ban goes ahead next year, the WFE, whose members include Deutsche Boerse and London Stock Exchange, called for review after a set period of time.

“This review is also designed to avoid international market fragmentation, particularly if international standard setters introduce a new global regulatory approach to the regulation of crypto assets,” the WFE said.

The FCA has estimated retail consumers could potentially benefit by between 75 million and 234.3 million pounds ($92-$289 million) from a ban by avoiding losses from investments.

Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Mark Potter