This week in crypto policy news the US SEC approves the trading of several spot Bitcoin ETF shares, marking a significant milestone in the cryptocurrency industry. Following the US approval of spot Bitcoin ETFs, Hong Kong Legislative Council members called on the local government to take swift action in the cryptocurrency space.
The European Banking Authority (EBA) has initiated its work on the second level of MiCA with two virtual public hearings.
UK’s Digital Securities Sandbox has been established, which allows certain Financial Market Infrastructures to text developing technologies within a modified legislative framework.
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The Spot Bitcoin ETF Milestone
This week in crypto policy news, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) approved the trading of several spot Bitcoin exchange-traded product (ETP) shares, marking a significant milestone in the cryptocurrency industry. Among the approved ETPs, Fidelity’s Wise Origin Bitcoin Fund stands out, offering investors a new way to gain exposure to Bitcoin. Gemini, a crypto exchange, was named the custodian for VanEck’s spot Bitcoin ETF, highlighting its crucial role in this development. The approval of these ETFs is expected to significantly boost the crypto industry, potentially bringing in $50 billion to $100 billion in 2024. However, competition among Bitcoin Funds is anticipated to be fierce, with asset managers differentiating themselves through low fees and marketing campaigns. This landmark event sends a strong signal globally that Bitcoin is here to stay, potentially for accelerating the growth of altcoins, DeFi, and Web3 assets.
CCI will continue to call for alignment with the Transfer of Funds Regulation, particularly about self-hosted accounts throughout this process.
Recent Crypto Policy Developments in the European Union
Meanwhile, in Brussels, Financial Services attachés met for the first ‘kick-off’ meeting under the Belgian presidency of Council with a priority of concluding files currently in trilogue, including a deal on the Authority for Anti-Money Laundering (AML) package. The Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union has been organizing meetings and preparing ministerial decisions. The AMLA and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (CFT) has been established, with a provisional agreement reached in December 2023. The AMLA will supervise financial entities at high risk of money laundering and coordinate roles in the non-financial sector.
The European Commission has welcomed the creation of the AMLA, which is expected to transform AML/CFT supervision in the EU and enhance cooperation among Financial Intelligence Units. The location for the AMLA is yet to be determined, with several member states, including Belgium, Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, and Austria, having submitted applications to host the authority. The EU’s anti-money laundering legislative package is also progressing, with the AMLA expected to be established in January 2024.
EU Commission Seeks Input on Virtual Words and Generative AI
The European Commission’s competition directorate (DG COMP) has published calls for contributions on virtual worlds and generative AI. Stakeholders have until 11 March 2024 to respond to a series of questions focusing on competition in these areas. The Commission aims to gather specific information and views related to competition aspects from regulatory experts, academia, industry and consumer organizations. The responses will help the Commission in its forward-looking analysis of technology and market trends to identify potential competition issues that may arise in these fields. The Commission may also organize a workshop with relevant stakeholders to discuss these issues further, based on the responses to the consultation.
EBA Advances MiCA Framework with Public Hearings
The European Banking Authority (EBA) has initiated its work on the second level of the Market in Crypto-Assets Regulation (MiCA) with two virtual public hearings. These hearings are part of the open consultations on the draft Guidelines for internal governance arrangements for issuers of asset-referenced tokens (ARTs). Additionally, the EBA is consulting on a draft Regulatory Technical Standard (ETS) concerning the approval procedures for white papers of ARTs issued buy credit institutions. Stakeholders have until 22 January 204, to submit their responses to these consultations. The guidelines aim to ensure that issuers of ARTs manage risks effectively, including operational, fraud, cyber, and compliance risks, and protect consumers and investors.
MEPs Prepare for First Strasbourg Plenary of 2024
Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have been preparing for the first Strasbourg plenary of 2024, scheduled for next week. The agenda includes votes on two non-binding reports on virtual worlds. These reports from the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection and the Committee on Legal Affairs, respectively, explore the opportunities, risks, and policy implications of virtual worlds for the single market. The reports underscore the importance of a careful assessment of all issues relating to the development of virtual worlds and their coverage by existing legislation. They also highlight the potential of a true digital single market to contribute decisively to the development of virtual worlds and strengthen the EU’s ability to compete globally.
UK Launches Digital Securities Sandbox
The UK’s Financial Services and Markets Act 2023 (Digital Securities Sandbox) came into effect on 8 January 2024. This new regulation establishes the Digital Securities Sandbox, which allows certain Financial Market Infrastructures to text developing technologies within a modified legislative framework. The Sandbox is designed to foster innovation by providing a controlled environment where businesses can experiment with digital securities without the full burden of regulatory compliance. This initiative is expected to support the growth of the fintech sector and advance the UK’s position in the global financial technology landscape.
Crypto Finance Conference St. Moritz Convenes Industry Leaders
The first major crypto conference of the year, the Crypto Finance Conference (CFC) St. Moritz (Switzerland), took place recently, bringing together leaders from the world to discuss the state of crypto, the economy, and the future of the industry. The conference, which is designed for private and institutional investors and leading executives, provided a platform for attendees to learn more about digital assets and the crypto and blockchain industry. Notable participants included Sheila Warren. The conference covered both macro trends and individual topics within the industry, offering attendees the opportunity to engage in workshops and roundtable discussions led by industry experts.
APAC : Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, the Middle East Make Important Crypto Announcements
Mercari to Accept Bitcoin Payments
The popular Japanese marketplace app, Mercari, has announced that it will start accepting Bitcoin for purchases by June 2024. This move is a significant step in the integration of cryptocurrencies into mainstream commerce, especially in Japan’s major e-commerce services. The Bitcoin payments will be operational within the app, allowing users to utilize their Bitcoin payments will be operational within the app, allowing users to utilize their Bitcoin holdings for transactions. This development is part of a broader trend of businesses exploring and adopting digital currencies as a form of payment, reflecting the growing acceptance and use of cryptocurrencies in the global economy.
Upbit Singapore Secures Major Payment Institution License
Crypto exchange Upbit has been granted a full license by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), enabling it to expand its digital asset business in the country. This development comes three months after Upbit Singapore received in-principle approval to offer digital token payment services. The full license will allow the exchange to grow its team, expand its institutional business offering, and increase the number of digital assets it lists. Upbit Singapore, part of the digital asset group Upbit Apac, serves retail and institutional clients and ties to Upbit Korea, one of South Korea’s largest exchanges. The group also operates regulated digital asset exchanges in Indonesia and Thailand.
Hong Kong Lawmaker Advocates for Spot Crypto ETFs
Following the US approval of spot Bitcoin ETFs, Hong Kong Legislative Council member Johnny Ng has called on the local government to take swift action in the cryptocurrency space. Ng encourages Hong Kong to “take the lead” by introducing spot crypto ETFs. Leveraging the Securities and Futures Commission’s readiness to accept applications for such products. He envisions Hong Kong securing a global position, particularly in Asia, by implementing relevant policies and products. The push for innovation comes as Hong Kong’s financial regulators have reviewed existing policies and published circulars outlining requirements for spot crypto ETFs. Ng also highlighted the importance of enhancing public education on virtual assets to prevent fraudulent activities. This move could further establish Hong Kong as a global hub for virtual assets.
OKX to Launch Arabic Language Site and App Cryptocurrency exchange OKX has announced plans to launch an Arabic language site and app for crypto trading and Web3 services. This initiative is part of the company’s efforts to make Web3 technology more accessible and promote the widespread adoption of digital assets in the Middle East. By offering services in Arabic, OKX aims to cater to the specific needs of the region’s users and provide them with a more localized and user-friendly experience. The move underscores the growing importance of the Middle East in the global crypto market and the increasing demand for digital asset services in the region.