European Regulator Renews Restrictions on Crypto-Based Derivatives

European Regulator Renews Restrictions on Crypto-Based Derivatives

Europe’s securities watchdog, ESMA, has decided to extend the restrictions applied to a number of financial derivatives, including contracts-for-differences (CFDs) based on cryptocurrencies. The limits that were introduced in August of this year will now remain in place until the end of January 2019.  

Also read: French Regulator Blacklists More Fraudulent Crypto Businesses

ESMA Concerned About CFDs Offered to Retail Clients

The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has taken steps to renew the restrictive measures imposed on the marketing, distribution, and sale of contracts-for-differences (CFDs) to retail customers. The restrictions were enforced on August 1 and according to the regulator’s latest decision, will be extended for another three-month period, starting from November 1.

In a press release, ESMA says it has “carefully considered the need to extend the intervention measure currently in effect.” The Paris-headquartered agency believes that “a significant investor protection concern related to the offer of CFDs to retail clients continues to exist.” That’s why a renewal of the limitations has been agreed by its Board of Supervisors on Wednesday, September 26, the regulatory body said in the announcement posted on its website this Friday.

The restrictions include the obligation to maintain leverage limits on the opening of a position by a retail client. These vary depending on the volatility of the underlying assets: 30:1 for major currency pairs; 20:1 for non-major currency pairs, gold, and major indices; 10:1 for commodities other than gold and non-major equity indices, and 5:1 for individual equities and other reference values. For cryptocurrency-based products, the leverage is limited at 2:1. These restrictions will be valid until January of next year.

European Regulator Renews Restrictions on Crypto-Based Derivatives

Other Applicable Limits Remain in Place

ESMA’s decision to limit the leverage offered on cryptocurrency CFDs to no more than 2:1 was agreed in March of this year, as reported. In its announcement back then, the EU institution referred to the restrictions as “temporary product intervention measures on the provision of CFDs and binary options to retail investors.” The ratio means that traders are obliged to provide an initial margin of “50% of the notional value of the CFD when the underlying asset is a cryptocurrency, which is more than the initial margin required of any other CFD.

The authority motivated its ruling with the relatively immature status of the asset class which, in its opinion, poses a major risk for investors. ESMA was worried about the integrity of the price formation process in the underlying cryptocurrency markets which “makes it inherently difficult for retail clients to value these products.” The regulatory body stated that financial instruments providing exposure to cryptocurrencies, CFDs in the case, needed to be closely monitored. It also promised to assess if stricter measures were required.

European Regulator Renews Restrictions on Crypto-Based Derivatives

In its latest decision on the matter, the agency confirms the renewal of other relevant restrictions, including a negative balance protection on a per account basis, a measure providing a guaranteed limit on retail client losses. Other safety mechanisms that have been confirmed envisage the preserving of restrictions on the incentives offered to trade CFDs as well as the issuing of a standardized risk warning that is supposed to include the percentage of losses on a CFD provider’s retail investor accounts.

In its press release, ESMA notes that the renewed measures have to be published in the official languages of the EU and also in the Official Journal of the Union before they begin to apply on November 1, 2018.

What is your opinion on the EU restrictions imposed on crypto-based CFDs? Share your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below.

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French Regulator Blacklists More Fraudulent Crypto Businesses

French Regulator Blacklists More Fraudulent Crypto Businesses

AMF, France’s financial regulator, has expanded its list of entities involved in fraudulent activities often related to cryptocurrency investments. The agency has added 21 new websites most of which have been luring French investors with offers to participate in token sales and digital assets trading.

Also read: Russian Crypto Groups in Telegram Increase Membership Despite Ban

France Updates Crypto Scams List

French Regulator Blacklists More Fraudulent Crypto BusinessesL’Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF), the French financial markets authority, has updated its blacklist of businesses providing services that entangle investors in fraudulent schemes. Most of the 21 new names belong to the grey segment of the crypto industry and offer investment opportunities in initial coin offerings (ICOs), cryptocurrency trading or mining projects. What’s common between these entities is that neither of them is authorized to operate in the sector. In its official announcement, the AMF notes that the list is updated regularly but warns that new actors appear all the time.

The move comes after in March French authorities blacklisted 15 online platforms suspected of similar offenses. Later, in July AMF stated that digital asset investments pose a risk to French citizens as they could be offered by scammers. The regulatory body included the warning in its annual financial industry risk assessment report. Despite being categorical about the threats, the agency admitted that the lack of reliable data hampers its efforts to single out and estimate the risks associated with this type of financial activities.

French Regulator Blacklists More Fraudulent Crypto BusinessesThe task of the French regulators is further complicated by the fact that cryptocurrencies and crypto-related products are not yet fully covered by the current legal definitions in the country’s legislation. Under French law, they are neither considered currencies nor regarded as financial instruments. Besides, it’s unclear which particular state institution bears responsibility and is competent to perform control and oversight functions.

Nevertheless, the AMF concluded earlier this year that crypto derivatives should be subject to the rules applicable to financial instruments under the Monetary and Financial Code of France. The same law is in full force in regards to the acts of approval of entities that are selling these products, as well as the regulations governing their operations.

Efforts to Make ICOs Safer for Investors

French authorities defined digital tokens as rights to the future use of services offered by the issuer noting that investors are actually betting on the success of the respective projects. However, tokens were not recognized as financial instruments. Despite these clarifications, crowdfunding through ICOs remained generally outside the scope of the French regulatory framework at the time.

French Regulator Blacklists More Fraudulent Crypto BusinessesThis month, lawmakers in Paris adopted new legislation introducing guidelines as part of a legal framework designed to regulate token sales in the crypto space. The law grants the AMF powers to license entities planning to conduct ICOs under certain conditions such as providing specific guarantees to participants. Token issuers will also be required to disclose any relevant information that would allow investors to make informed decisions about their projects.

The French financial markets authority considered the lack of dedicated regulations an inherent risk of ICOs. The new rules which are part of president Emmanuel Macron’s plan to improve the business climate in the country, along with the decision to significantly cut taxes on crypto profits, can potentially turn France into another European jurisdiction with crypto-friendly characteristics.

Do you think the measures taken by the AMF will limit the number of fraudulent schemes related to cryptocurrencies? Share your opinions on the subject in the comments section below.

Images courtesy of Shutterstock, AMF.

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France Warns of Several Unauthorized Cryptocurrency Platforms

France Warns of Several Unauthorized Cryptocurrency Platforms

France’s financial markets regulator has issued a new warning against unauthorized platforms offering cryptocurrency investments. The regulator has added four websites to its list of blacklisted domains offering crypto investments without authorization.

Also read: Yahoo! Japan Confirms Entrance Into the Crypto Space

French Regulator’s Warning

France Warns of Several Unauthorized Cryptocurrency PlatformsThe French financial markets regulator, the Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF), on Monday warned “the public against several companies proposing atypical investments without being authorized to do so.”

The AMF is an independent public authority responsible for ensuring that savings invested in financial products are protected. According to Law no. 2016-1691 on transparency, no investment offer can be directly marketed in France without a registration number or prior approval by the AMF.

France Warns of Several Unauthorized Cryptocurrency PlatformsAlongside Monday’s warning, the regulator also published a list of four “new unauthorized websites offering atypical investments.” The four websites are,,, and At the time of this writing, is already offline. The other three are still live but redirects all traffic to

The AMF previously published a list of 15 websites offering crypto investments without authorization. The regulator maintains three lists of unauthorized websites – one for forex products, one for binary options, and one for other goods including diamonds, wines, and cryptocurrencies. The agency started keeping track of blacklisted sites in July last year and began including crypto sites in December.

AMF Concerned About Crypto

The AMF has been tracking losses in cryptocurrencies through its Epargne Info-services center, which receives investment complaints and claims. During the AMF’s annual report presentation last month, Chairman Robert Ophèle said:

During the first four months of the year, out of the more than 4,000 requests processed by our Epargne Info-services center, 700 concerned crypto-assets with nearly 250 claims or reports reporting more than € 9 million (~US$10.43 million) in losses.

He added that cryptocurrencies have taken over binary options and highly leveraged contracts for difference (CFDs) as the most pressing problem.

France is currently creating a legal framework for initial coin offerings (ICOs), which is expected to be finalized next year. The agency started clamping down on bitcoin derivatives in February. In April, the country slashed the tax rate on crypto capital gains from 45% to 19%.

What do you think of the AMF warning investors of these unauthorized platforms? Let us know in the comments section below.

Images courtesy of Shutterstock and AMF.

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Dutch AFM on Licensing Requirements for Institutions Invested in Crypto

Dutch AFM on Licensing Requirements for Institutions Invested in Crypto

The Dutch financial regulator, The Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM) has published a letter addressed to new and currently existing institutions invested in cryptocurrencies. The letter seeks to inform that certain cryptocurrency investment activities may require licensing from the AFM, however, expresses “serious doubts” as to “whether managers of investment institutions in cryptos can meet the requirements for licensing.”

Also Read: Censorship, Bans, and ETH Scams: Twitter Suspends Bitmain’s Official Account

Dutch Financial Regulator Issues Letter to Investment Institutions Operating With Cryptocurrencies

Dutch AFM on Licensing Requirements for Institutions Invested in CryptoThe letter seeks to address individuals seeking to apply as an administrator of an investment institution in cryptos, in addition to “existing […] administrator[s] of an investment institution active in cryptos, or [individuals] planning an investment institution to manage cryptos.”

The AFM states that it is placing the “heavy requirements” on institutions investing in cryptocurrencies due to “strong concern[s]” as to whether managers of investment institutions who invest in cryptos are able to meet the full licensing requirements. The AFM’s concerns principally regard “the sharp increase in interest in new market parties to provide these services in combination with the usually limited knowledge about applicable regulations,” which generally results in “ignorance” as to how to meet “supervisory standards in practice.”

The AFM also requests that investment institution inform the agency regarding “any desired expansion of [cryptocurrency] product offering[s]” well in advance of providing such.

Licensing Requirements for Dutch Investment Institutions

Dutch AFM on Licensing Requirements for Institutions Invested in CryptoThe AFM to clarify what circumstances in which the administrator for an investment institution will be required to seek licensing from the regulator. The letter states that the “threshold value for an administrator of (an) open-end investment institution (s) [is] €100 million [approximately $1,162 million USD].”

“An administrator of an investment institution must obtain a number of important licenses to [meet] licens[ing] requirements,” the AFM continues. “These requirements are intended to include to protect the interests of retail investors and to ensure the proper functioning of retail investors market. No distinction is made between different forms of investing.”

The AFM has “drawn up a number of questions” that administrators of institutions invested in cryptocurrencies will be required to answer in order to apply for the required licensing. Said requirements pertain to the institution’s liquidity management, valuation protocols, the product development process, and storage considerations.

What is your response to the AFM’s new licensing apparatus for institutions invested in cryptocurrencies? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Images courtesy of Shutterstock,

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Bitcoin in Brief Wednesday: Zug Tests Blockchain to Decide on Fireworks and Digital IDs

Bitcoin in Brief Wednesday: Zug Tests Blockchain to Decide on Fireworks and IDs

The city of Zug, home of the Swiss Crypto Valley, will invite its residents to take part in an experimental blockchain-based vote. They are expected to share opinions on several questions of local importance, including the fireworks display during the annual Lakeside Festival and the use of digital IDs to borrow books and pay parking fees. This and other fintech and crypto-related stories from the Alpine nation and other corners of Europe are featured in today’s edition of Bitcoin in Brief.   

Also read: Bitcoin in Brief Tuesday: POT Saves World, Coinbase Pumps ETC, Binance Wants EUR

Zug Experiments with Blockchain-Based Vote

Bitcoin in Brief Wednesday: Zug Tests Blockchain to Decide on Fireworks and IDsAuthorities in the Swiss city of Zug plan to ask local residents to participate in a consultative blockchain-based vote this month utilizing the city’s electronic ID system. They will be able to vote via their smartphones by downloading and installing an app. The experimental vote will be held between June 25 and July 1. Citizens will be asked if they are in favor of setting alight fireworks during the annual Lakeside Festival, and whether they think digital IDs should be used to borrow books from the library, pay parking fees, and for identification on regular referendums.

According to Swissinfo, the results of the vote will be non-binding. Nevertheless, the initiative, which aims to test whether blockchain can be used on a broader scale, highlights again the positive attitude of Swiss authorities towards cryptocurrencies and the underlying technology. The canton of Zug, dubbed Switzerland’s Crypto Valley, has become home to many fintech startups and even established crypto companies like the Chinese giant Bitmain, which has opened an office there.

Bitcoin in Brief Wednesday: Zug Tests Blockchain to Decide on Fireworks and IDsFor some time now, Zug has been accepting cryptocurrency payments for municipal services, including company registrations using bitcoin and ether. The city introduced its eID system to provide citizens with digital access to council services. The pilot phase of the project started last fall. The system is based on blockchain technology.

New Swiss Body to Simplify Capital Markets

In another example of Switzerland’s serious approach to fintech innovations, leading representatives of the country’s financial, technological, academic and legal sectors have recently formed the new Capital Markets and Technology Association (CMTA) to facilitate the use of blockchain in financial markets. In a press release, they noted that “the blockchain technology has the potential to reduce the complexity of the capital markets system and lower the barrier of entry for startups.”

According to CMTA’s founders, the lack of legal certainty is slowing and can potentially compromise development in the field. They hope to facilitate access to funding for new businesses by defining a set of industry-supported open standards. These should ultimately contribute to value creation throughout the economy said Jacques Iffland, CMTA’s chair and partner at Lenz & Staehelin, the largest Swiss law firm.

Bitcoin in Brief Wednesday: Zug Tests Blockchain to Decide on Fireworks and IDs

Swissquote Bank Ltd, a leader in online banking, and Temenos, which specializes in banking software, are also behind the initiative. CMTA promises to work to create toolkits that can be used by new or established companies, businesses and startups to access funding and raise capital securely and efficiently, using new technologies and leveraging digitalization. The association is based in Geneva.

Irish Blockchain Startup Delivering Aid to Refugees Raises €1m

Bitcoin in Brief Wednesday: Zug Tests Blockchain to Decide on Fireworks and IDsAn Irish startup, using blockchain to facilitate the distribution of humanitarian aid, has raised an estimated €1 million from investors, according to industry sources quoted by The Irish Times. The Dublin-based Aid:tech is working in refugee camps, often in hotspots like the Middle East. On Wednesday, Enterprise Ireland and SGInnovate, the venture capital arm of the Singaporean development authority, announced simultaneous investments in the Irish company. This is the first time both state-backed organizations have allocated funds to support a blockchain business, the Irish daily notes. Amsterdam-based Blue Parasol Investments and Tin Fu Fund, a closed private equity fund managed by Shenzhen Capital Group, also took part in the funding round.

Aid:tech aims to increase transparency in the distribution of aid, welfare, remittances, donations, and healthcare services through digitizing their delivery using blockchain technology on its platform. According to the company, only a fraction of the estimated €306 billion (~$360 billion) transferred each year by non-governmental aid organizations is currently delivered via transparent systems which, the startup claims, are extremely expensive to administer. The blockchain technology employed by the Irish firm would allow all international aid to be accounted for, including the distribution of medicine, food and other essentials, the publication details.

Government-Backed Platform to Promote Ireland as a Blockchain Hub

In an attempt to highlight Ireland’s capabilities in the blockchain ecosystem, authorities in Dublin have launched a new government-backed platform. Blockchain Ireland, founded in partnership with a young company called Consensys, aims to create conditions for greater cooperation between startups working in the sector, both on national and international level. The platform was launched by the Irish Blockchain Expert Group and backed by Enterprise Ireland, the Irish Department of Finance, leading members of the country’s blockchain industry and representatives from a number of academic institutions.

Bitcoin in Brief Wednesday: Zug Tests Blockchain to Decide on Fireworks and IDs

The online platform is a source of useful information about the Irish blockchain ecosystem. It will be used to promote the country as a blockchain hub by highlighting the Irish technology sector and business environment which turn Ireland into an ideal location for blockchain-enabled business, Silicon Republic reports. The services it will be offering include providing information on setting up a new company and support for blockchain projects in Ireland. Its activities, however, will stretch beyond Irish borders. Blockchain Ireland will be working to develop the European and international blockchain ecosystem as well.

What are your thoughts on today’s topics in Bitcoin in Brief? Let us know in the comments below.

Images courtesy of Shutterstock.

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