ECB's Nowotny says central banks considering cryptocurrency regulation

European Central Bank (ECB) Governing Council member and OeNB governor Ewald Nowotny addresses a news conference in Vienna, Austria, June 9, 2017. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

FLORENCE, Italy (Reuters) - European Central Bank governing council member Ewald Nowotny said on Thursday that legislators and central bankers are discussing whether they should intervene to regulate cryptocurrencies, as China already has done.

“We’re asking ourselves if legislators or central banks should intervene, as happened in China where they banned (the use of cryptocurrencies) because they consider them fraudulent,” Bank of Austria’s Nowotny said at a conference in Florence.

Chinese authorities in September ordered Beijing-based cryptocurrency exchanges to stop trading, in a move aimed at limiting financial risks surrounding the highly speculative market that has grown rapidly this year.

However, Nowotny played down the possible risks cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin represent for the wider financial system.

“This market is not so large, so it cannot create financial instability,” he said, adding that investors needed to understand the product.

“It is like buying shares on the bourse ... people investing in this product can suffer losses and if that happens, they simply have to accept it,” he said.

Underscoring the volatility in the market, Bitcoin lost almost a third of its value in less than four days last week, but has staged a strong recovery this week.

Reporting by Silvia Ognibene; Writing by Steve Scherer; Editing by Crispian Balmer